American movies have always been a bright and flickering window into our nation’s history -- a great narrative tool to tell the American story to foreign audiences. What better way could there be to support our public diplomacy than by screening documentaries about our culture and history at more than 500 American Spaces around the world?
Through the “America’s Media Makers” grant program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), talented American film-makers have told the stories of the American Dust Bowl, Broadway musicals, American jazz, and the Freedom Riders who challenged segregation in the early 1960s, and also created portraits of revered American figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and President Lyndon Johnson.
Now, thanks to a new agreement of cooperation and partnership between the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) and NEH, we can share these American reflections without paying licensing fees to third party distributors. Today, Acting NEH Chairwoman Carole Watson and I signed an Interagency Agreement (IAA) that provides overseas embassies the right to use grant-funded films without added expense to the American taxpayer.
This agreement will allow us to continue the flow of documentaries to our American Spaces and IIP will coordinate with NEH-funded filmmakers to obtain the films and highlight best practices from posts for screenings and events. The only thing we won't provide is the popcorn.
About the Author: Tara D. Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.