Yale faculty featured in U.N. worldwide premiere of film “The Beginning of Life” on 24 May 2016

When you pay attention to the beginning of a story, you can change the whole story.


Pia Rebello Britto, PhD, UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development and Assistant Professor Adjunct in the Yale Child Study Center, is one of a team of leading global researchers and specialists, including the 2000 Nobel Prize winner for Economics, James Heckman, who were interviewed and featured in the new documentary “The Beginning of Life”. The groundbreaking film aims to raise awareness on the importance of investing in the early years of life and how scientific evidence supports the developmental well-being of young children, which defines both the present and future of mankind. The film, directed by Estela Renner and produced by Maria Farinha Fimes, makes its worldwide premiere at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on May 24, 2016 at 6:30 PM.

Dr. Britto has built a worldwide reputation for her work in the area of early childhood. Her leadership at UNICEF and research with faculty at Yale University and other institutions around the globe has established a correlation between formative childhood and the construction of Peace. Dr. Britto's contribution to the film as a member of the team of specialists reflects that the healthy cognitive, emotional and social development of a child depends upon the combination of genetics, the quality of the relationships, and environment within which a child grows. “Every time a parent speaks to a young child, it sparks something in the child; it’s stimulation to the child. It forms brain connections.” relates Dr. Britto who will co-lead a conversation following the premiere with Director, Estela Renner, and journalist and author, Sarah Carr.

Its through human relations, especially with a being in formation, that the world will be capable of living up to its full potential.

Estela Renner

Filmed in nine countries, the documentary takes a worldwide perspective by portraying families from a wide array of cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds with the intent to better understand the “broad patchwork of habits, realities and understandings about the importance of the early years” as well as to measure the proximity of theory to practice. The story challenges governments, institutions and communities to better ensure the capacity for parents to ‘embrace parenthood’ in order to raise competent youth, capable of developing theories to gain a better understanding of the world.

Director Renner reveals, “During two years producing the movie, I had a growing feeling that in each baby there is a world, and caring for a baby is caring for this specific world. When we care for someone, we are transformed, its not just simple self-giving, it’s a two-way relationship. She underscores, “Its through human relations, especially with a being in formation, that the world will be capable of living up to its full potential.”

Please see YSM calendar event to learn more information about this U.N. world premiere film event.

To register/RSVP (required), contact Alicia Marin, amarin@unicef.org.

"The Beginning of Life' will be digitally released on June 1, 2016 on iTunes and Netflix, dubbed in six languages and subtitled in 21 languages.

The feature documentary is presented by: Maria Cecília Souto Vidigal Foundation, Bernard Van Leer Foundation, Instituto Alana and UNICEF.

This article was submitted by Nancy Shemrah Fallon on May 19, 2016.

DIGITAL RELEASE | 1 JUNE 2016

The Beginning of Life' was digitally released on June 1, 2016 on iTunes and Netflix (instant watch). The feature documentary is dubbed in six languages and subtitled in 21 languages.

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Pia Britto

Assistant Professor Adjunct