The Magic of Unexpected Stories

Dogs are barking, a beautiful shot of an icy landscape comes into view and we hear how a young woman takes her first steps into ice skating. We meet Chuskit and she tells us how mediocre she feels normally until she steps on the ice.

We’re in Ladak, India with the Women’s Ice Hockey team about to go to the Asia Challenge for the first time.

                                                                                    HIGH PASSES, Cosima Barzini


Football commentators can’t stop themselves from screaming goal, goal, goal, goal…. In the commentary box the emotion on their face is indescribable, it’s joy and shock and excitement. Panama have scored the winning goal that will take them to the World Cup.

We’re with them on a journey that they hope will change the identity of a country.

                                                                                    PANAMA MUNDIAL, Dan Faber


This is what I was seeing and hearing when I watched the opening shots of these two short films. In both cases, it was immediately clear what hooked the filmmakers into their stories.

After all, these are not your usual reports from India or Panama.



From the set-up you are already both taken by surprise and drawn in to the lives of the characters involved.

As a viewer they challenge us to question our surprise at a women’s ice hockey team practising beneath the Himalayan Mountains, or that Panamanians are passionate about football as well as the finance sector.



At first glance you might think the connection between these two films is that they are both telling sports stories.

But it’s clear from the start that they are actually telling a broader story that gives us cultural context and understanding.

In these unexpected stories we can begin to shape a more three-dimensional view of people’s lives. The struggles as well as the triumphs. They give us a window into their world.

In turn, by showcasing these underreported stories there is an opportunity to break down prejudices and help to build connections between cultures.


Cosima Barzini and Dan Faber are two recent grantees of the One World Media Fellowship.

The Fellowship is specifically designed to support emerging filmmakers who are telling stories about developing countries with creativity and integrity.

Our Fellows have covered an array of global stories, from elephant drivers in Nepal to escaping the ghettos of Columbia, and of course from ice hockey to football teams.


If you have a proposal for a story based in a developing country, whether it’s an idea for film, print, audio or digital, then consider applying for our Fellowship. Our Fellows have an opportunity to experiment and learn, with mentorship that will guide you on your creative journey.

Apply Now


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Please support us so that we can continue to uncover hidden talent and untold stories from around the world, and fund more Fellows internationally.

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Gemma Bradshaw – Director, OWM