As I've written before in Slumdog The Latest in $100 Million Cause Campaigns Called Movies, the movie industry has a rich history of telling stories that inspire and incite change. Well there was a lesser-known film based on real-world events from India that won an Oscar besides Slumdog Millionaire. Taking home Best Documentary Short was Smile Pinki which tells the story of "Pinki, a girl in rural India whose cleft lip has made her a social outcast...but has a chance for a new life when she meets a dedicated social worker."
The non-profit organization behind this social work is SmileTrain, a charity solely focused on cleft lip and palette in developing countries. You've probably seen their ads in newspapers including The New York Times for which the paper calls "...one of the most productive charities -dollar for deed- in the world." For 10 years now they've provided simple 45-minute surgery that provides "a desperate child not just a new smile, but a second chance at life" – and a $250 donation covers all costs.
The org does a masterful job at marketing the cause. While there are certainly celebrity endorsers like most NPOs these days, the ads focus on the heart-wrenching "before" pictures of these precious children. It's one of the simplest and most effective ways to promote the need for change.
As a documentary, the filmmakers were certainly more able to address the related social issue head-on than say Slumdog. SmileTrain was even mentioned by name in the acceptance speech. And in return, the cause has smartly leveraged the Oscar win in it's newest ads. It remains a collaborative effort to use storytelling in all its forms, film and advertising, to advocate for change.
By the way you can donate to SmileTrain online.