Local filmmaker Mark Trent wins Silver Lion award at Cannes Lion Festival

(Screenshot captured from YouTube, all credits to Great Big Story and P&G) The Words Matter follows Michael Chanak, a gay rights activist, through his story of changing Proctor and Gamble’s equal employment opportunity statement to include LGBTQ individuals.

Mark Trent is an Appalachia based photographer and filmmaker. Born and raised in West Virginia, Trent has traveled the globe to tell intimate stories through award-winning photo essays and documentaries.

Trent was a producer for a 19-minute long documentary commissioned by Proctor and Gamble (P&G) titled The Words Matter. The film focuses on Michael Chanak, a gay rights activist who, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, fought to add LGBTQ individuals to P&G’s equal employment opportunity statement.

Described as “the longest P&G commercial in history, the Cannes Lions website gives a back story on the idea behind the film: “When Michael Chanak started at Procter and Gamble (P&G) in the mid 1980s, the AIDS epidemic was rampant. But despite selling Peridex, a prescription mouthwash to treat thrust in people with HIV/AIDS, P&G had no protections for LGBTQ individuals within the community. Chanak, who’d become a vocal gay rights activist, wanted to change that. With years of work and help from determined colleagues, Chanak got P&G to add sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity (EEO) statement. The Great Big Film “The Words Matter” depicts Chanak’s effort to improve the lives of LGBTQ workers across the country.”

At the Cannes Lion Festival on June 20, The Words Matter was awarded a prestigious Silver Lion award in the Corporate Social Responsibility category. As of this week, the documentary has over 1.4 million views on YouTube.

Trent has worked in documentary and commercial spheres for clients such as The New York Times, Great Big Story, General Electric, Target, Subaru, CNN, and Warner Brothers, among others. Mark is a member of the Southern Documentary Collective Ya’ll and serves on the board of the Looking at Appalachia Project.