As the election results started trickling in last November, Daniel Klein started thinking about how he could make a difference. He knew that whatever he did would likely involve filmmaking. Since 2009, he and his wife Mirra Fine had produced the Perennial Plate, whose weekly episodes explored sustainable eating through the lens of a variety of food professionals, like a Sri Lankan tea farmer or a Spanish duck farmer producing humane foie gras. The show was a success, earning a robust following and two James Beard Awards. But after the election, Klein wanted to reach a different audience: “How do we not just make these films to make ourselves feel good?” he asked himself. “How are we actually going to make them effective in changing hearts and minds?”
As Klein read election post-mortems, one thing kept sticking out. Many pundits seized upon fake news on Facebook as a major factor in President Trump’s unexpected victory--a popular Wall Street Journal graphic demonstrated the schism between news stories that appeared on liberal newsfeeds (pieces on how much undocumented immigrants contribute in taxes, “The Best Science Shows That Guns Do Not Save Lives”) and their conservative counterparts (stories on why Canada’s welcome of Muslim immigrants is a bad idea, a “GUN CONTROL FAIL”). Klein had an idea. What if he and Fine harnessed the power of Facebook’s targeted advertising, a key ingredient to so-called “fake news,” and used it for good?
That’s the idea behind their new project, “Resistance Through Storytelling.” Klein, Fine and filmmaker Hunter Johnson plan to create short documentaries about five different immigrant or refugee families across the United States, centered around a cross-generational family dinner where each member discusses their immigration experience. The team will then distribute the films through Facebook’s hyper-stratified targeting options, aiming for moderate voters in swing states--selecting, say, people who live in Wisconsin and like the Packers--to combat what Klein calls the “anti-immigration echo chamber” in some newsfeeds.