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Facebook and Kiran Rao partner to unleash the power of mobile storytelling

From cinematic canvas to mobile canvas, Kiran Rao returns as director after eight years

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MUMBAI: From cinematic canvas to mobile canvas, filmmaker Kiran Rao marked her return to direction with two films made for Facebook India. Each film is under ten seconds in duration and is a part of the Facebook Thumbstoppers initiative launched in May this year to redefine short-form mobile video ads in the country

Speaking about the films, Kiran Rao said, “Ten seconds. No audio. To shoot vertical. And show change in human behaviour. The brief for these films was certainly exciting. I must say that it was some great learning as a filmmaker. The mobile medium has a set of realities which as content makers one must embrace and play with. Once you understand the medium, the storytelling comes naturally. It was fun making these films, and it is great to be back doing what I love most.”

Kiran's last directorial venture, ‘Dhobi Ghat’, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and enjoyed worldwide acclaim with its global release in 2011. She has produced several films such as Taare Zameen Par (2007), Peepli Live (2010), Delhi Belly (2011), Dangal (2016), Secret Super Star (2017), and the television show Satyamev Jayate (2012-2014) with Aamir Khan Productions.

Link to the videos: https://www.facebook.com/business/m/thumbstoppers

Sunita G.R., Head of Marketing at Facebook India said, “Mobile has fundamentally reshaped consumer behaviour. People consume as well as recall content faster on mobile. As mobile becomes more pervasive, there has emerged an ardent need for marketers and creative agencies to create mobile-first ads and to embrace the possibility that stories that stop thumbs from scrolling, evoke emotions, and change human behavior can be told in under ten seconds. The partnership with Kiran Rao is a powerful ode to the magic that can be created in ad storytelling for the mobile-first world.”

Since its launch in May, Facebook Thumbstoppers has endeavored to encourage the industry to create short-form mobile storytelling that is built for the medium rather than adapted from other traditional formats. Thumbstoppers are those stories that can stop thumbs from scrolling, evoke emotions, and have the potential to change human behavior in less than ten seconds.

The two films created by Rao touch upon two of the most glaring societal truths - gender inequality and domestic violence against women. The first film depicts a young boy and his sister being served milk at home. The milk in the boy’s glass is considerably greater in quantity than that in his sister’s glass. He pours some of the milk from his glass into hers to make the quantities equal, thus crafting a compelling story against gender discrimination.

The second film has a woman nursing a bruise with an ice pack when her domestic help walks up to her and hands over a cellphone which has the number of the police. The film aims to inspire people to take that first courageous step.

The two films powerfully showcase how integral it is to capture the audience’s attention in the first few seconds. Keeping the sensibilities of mobile consumption in mind, they are both built for the vertical landscape for seamless mobile viewing, and ensure that the right messaging lands even with the sound-off, and is a delight with sound-on. The films formidably convey that powerful storytelling is possible in a few seconds without compromising on the tenets of good filmmaking – emotion, suspense, drama, and cutting-edge creativity. 

As a part of this initiative, Facebook is also throwing open a 'Thumbstopper Challenge' - an invitation to all creative minds to submit their short stories on the brief of driving behaviour change in less than ten seconds, by 12th July. The winners of the Thumbstopper Challenge will be announced in August, and the top winners will get to travel to Cannes next year. Facebook will also produce the top 20 films.

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