Illinois Rotarian has won five Emmys for public television series
Martha Foster Rotary Images/Alyce Henson
In 30 years of working in documentary films, Martha Foster, a member of the Rotary Club of Wilmette, Illinois, USA, has organized festivals at museums and colleges, won five Emmys for a public television series, and served as an expert for a U.S. government program that screens documentaries in countries such as China, Myanmar, and Singapore. In 2005, she founded Living Earth Television (LETV).
The nonprofit, dedicated to cultural exchange through film, aims to give the general public free access to documentaries from around the globe, translated into an array of languages.
“We can read about people in various parts of the world, but having the opportunity to see them in their own environment and hear them speak in their own words is profoundly different,” Foster says.
One of the first LETV projects, sponsored by the Wilmette club, provided three U.S. environmental films, including one on sustainable food systems, to Myanmar State Television. With support from her club and the Rotary Club of Hyderabad North, Foster is developing an initiative to bring cultural and environmental documentaries to high school and college classrooms in India and the United States. Those produced in India would be translated for American students, and vice versa.
“We can use the films to introduce ourselves to others, and to meet people through their own voices,” Foster says. “I think of it as documentary diplomacy.”
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