Filmmaker to make documentary about TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra’s TED Prize story may soon be coming to a theater near you. Today during the TEDGlobal 2013 session “Exquisite, Enigmatic Us,” curator Chris Anderson named British director Jerry Rothwell as the winner of the first annual Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award. Rothwell earned a $125,000 grant to follow Sugata Mitra over the next 18 months as he builds his School in the Cloud and to craft a documentary about Mitra’s $1 million wish.

British director Jerry Rothwell has received the first annual Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award, and with it $125K to make a documentary about Sugata Mitra. Photo: Courtesy of Mitra

TED and the Sundance Institute launched this collaboration at TED2013 to increase public consciousness about the TED Prize winner’s wish and work. In addition to telling the winner’s story, the award was established to build resources for creative non-fiction storytelling.

“We are thrilled to award Jerry Rothwell the first ever Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award, and are eager to see the vision he brings to document Sugata Mitra’s TED Prize wish,” said Lara Stein, director of the TED Prize. “The Sundance Institute | TED Prize award unites artists, innovators, and thought leaders with a vision for spurring global change. Sugata’s wish to build a School in the Cloud will have an important impact, and Jerry Rothwell’s work will ensure his story is told beautifully, originally and authentically.”

Following a global call for submissions and a competitive selection process, Rothwell and his producers Al Morrow and Dan Demissie’s proposal was chosen by Sundance Institute and TED in partnership with advisory committee members. Their projected film, Like Whirlwinds, will explore the development of the School in the Cloud from the perspectives of underprivileged children in India with limited access to education, a retired teacher in the UK who serves as a virtual mentor for kids in India’s slums, and working class youth in England.

The film will also look at how technology interplays with children’s inherent curiosity and dares to pose a question Mitra himself asks: is the traditional way of “knowing” obsolete in the Google age?

Slated for release in 2015, Like Whirlwinds will follow Rothwell’s latest film, Town of Runners, and previous award-winning features including Donor UnknownHeavy Load, and Deep Water.

Inspired? Become a part of the story. Help Sugata Mitra design the future of learning by participating in his wish.