MH Film Chosen to Debut for Launch of The Economist Film Project

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From The Economist:

New York, NY–The Economist Film Project, which presents documentary films that reflect the types of issues The Economist is known for covering, announced today that The Edge of Joy will be the initiative’s debut film. Directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro, The Edge of Joy takes the viewer right into the midst of a busy maternity ward and closely follows an ensemble cast of Nigerian doctors, midwives and families to the frontlines of maternal care. An excerpt of the documentary will air in a special segment on PBS NEWSHOUR on April 28.

Inside the maternity ward, the film chronicles distressed labors, deaths, and miraculous survival. In April 2010, The Lancet published a worldwide study on maternal mortality conducted by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at Washington University. For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, from total maternal deaths of roughly 525,000 in 1980 to about 342,900 in 2008. In The Edge of Joy, Ms. Shapiro explores some of the factors that might be contributing to the drop, including new technologies like an anti-shock garment that slows hemorrhaging, to community health initiatives like maternity-only blood banks.

In addition to The Edge of Joy, The Economist and PBS NEWSHOUR have also chosen Wagah, Last Train Home and Good Fortune for the Project’s initial slate of films. These films cover a wide variety of issues ranging from the annual mass migration of China’s urban workers back to their villages to the nightly ritual celebrating the closing of India and Pakistan’s only road border to a Kenyan community hurt by foreign aid. Excerpts from each film will be the focus of special segments airing regularly on PBS NEWSHOUR.

“Since we announced The Economist Film Project in December, we have had more than 800 submissions of documentaries that tell riveting stories set in all parts of the globe,” said Gideon Lichfield, Editorial Director of The Economist Film Project. “The Edge of Joy and the other films stood out for embodying the spirit of the Project, presenting unusual perspectives on complex issues and enhancing our understanding of the world.”

“Unfortunately, documentary filmmakers don’t always have the resources necessary to raise awareness of their films on their own,” said Dawn Sinclair Shapiro, Director of The Edge Of Joy. “Participating in The Economist Film Project not only provides filmmakers with a global platform, but also adds a legitimacy that will expand the reach of this and other films.”

Shapiro is a veteran journalist and began her career at CBS Sunday Morning. Dawn has worked as a producer and writer at Tribune Broadcasting, CNBC, MSNBC, Dateline NBC and Chicago Public Radio. She is now an independent producer working with many partners including the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. The Edge of Joy is her second feature-length documentary.

The films chosen for the Project are jointly curated by The Economist and PBS NEWSHOUR. Once selected, a producer from PBS NEWSHOUR works with each director to create six- to eight-minute segments of the films, which then become the focus of special segments airing regularly on PBS NEWSHOUR through 2011. The segments will also be featured on both the NewsHour and the Project website ( Additional films selected by The Economist Film Project will be announced throughout the year.


About The Economist
With a growing global circulation (worldwide: 1,473,939; North America: 833,667) and a reputation for insightful analysis and opinion on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognized and well-read current affairs publications. The paper has sections about each region of the world, plus science and technology, books and arts and the weekly obituary. The website (, with its 5.9 million unique readers, is also accessible through devices including the iPhone and iPad.