WNET’s Sacred project to globally crowdsource religious topics for one year

By Dru Sefton

WNET President Emeritus Bill Baker is spearheading a unique internationally crowdsourced public television project documenting a year of spiritual and religious life worldwide.

The initiative, titled Sacred, launches June 21 and continues for one year, with contributors around the globe answering the question, “What is sacred to you?” To avoid favoring any one faith, the 2013 and 2014 summer solstices were chosen to begin and end the filming period. Footage shot during the 365 days will be the basis for a public television film set to premiere in 2015 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Presenting station is WLIW, a subsidiary of WNET in New York City.

“We are all excited to do something global, and something that’s ambitious for public television,” said Neal Shapiro, WNET president. “Sacred will take full advantage of the international, accessible nature of 21st century filmmaking, and will also fulfill a key mission of public media, giving voice to those who might not otherwise be represented in the media.”

The production team has already fielded ideas from people in 55 countries on every continent but Antarctica.  Baker, who has explored Antarctica as a filmmaker, said in an announcement that the team hopes to solicit footage from McMurdo Station, the United States base at the South Pole. “We will not rest until Sacred is truly global, even if I have to go back to the South Pole myself,” Baker said.

The project is executive produced by Baker, Stephen Segaller, WNET’s v.p. of programming, and Julie Anderson, the station’s executive producer, documentaries and development; and is produced by New York City-based Lan Trinh.

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