Social entrepreneur Eunice Olsen's Web series picked for UK's Raindance Film Festival

A screen shot of the episode in which Eunice Olsen (far left) appears with Dr Maya Bhattachan.
A screen shot of the episode in which Eunice Olsen (far left) appears with Dr Maya Bhattachan.PHOTO: WOMENTALK TV

WomenTalk TV episode by social entrepreneur Eunice Olsen is the only Asian entry in this year's Official Selection for the Web series category in Raindance

An episode of social entrepreneur Eunice Olsen's Web interview series WomenTalk TV has been chosen as an Official Selection at the ongoing Raindance Film Festival in London.

The episode, which features Olsen speaking with Dr Maya Bhattachan, Nepal's first female neurosurgeon, will be screened on Friday at London's Vue Picadilly cinema as part of the festival's Web series section.

Olsen, 38, who is in London for the event, is excited to catch the episode on the big screen for the first time.

"There was a lot of squealing and jumping up and down when we heard that this was accepted as an Official Selection, and I'm just really excited to see it on the big screen.

"We're very grateful and encouraged that a small programme from Singapore can compete on an international stage. I'm very happy and very honoured," she tells The Straits Times in a telephone interview.

Now in its 24th edition, Raindance Film Festival is Britain's answer to the Sundance Film Festival, screening and promoting independent films made in Britain and beyond.

WomenTalk TV is the only Asian entry to make it to the Official Selection for the festival's Web series category this year.

Other Web series on the list include The Great American Cooking Story from the United States, which looks at how the gentrification of communities affects restaurants, and Fashpack: Freetown, a work from Australia which follows an aid worker working in Freetown, Sierra Leone, who discovers that the place is an unlikely fashion hotspot.

Olsen launched WomenTalk TV on her website WomenTalk (womentalktv.asia) three years ago, in hopes of sharing inspirational stories about women with women.

Besides Dr Bhattachan, she has interviewed women such as Ms Charm Tong, a refugee-turned-human rights activist from Myanmar, and Singaporean restaurateur Lena Sim, the owner of Japanese restaurant chain Ministry Of Food, who was abandoned at birth by her parents.

To date, Olsen has conducted 27 interviews for WomenTalk TV.

Before Raindance's recognition, the series was nominated for an International Emmy for Best Digital - Non-Fiction in 2014.

For Olsen, a former Nominated Member of Parliament and Miss Universe Singapore in 2000, uncovering these stories makes her feel "stronger" too.

"These stories are all so heartwarming and inspiring, and the women are really everyday women who do extraordinary things. I keep getting feedback from viewers who say that they can relate to the women or that they are inspired to do something because of them.

"That encourages me to go on doing this," she says excitedly.

Beyond the Web interview series, the WomenTalk brand has since branched out to launch WomenTalk Pulse, which features two-minute video clips of women who initiate projects in their own communities, and WomenTalk Soul, which explores wellness for women at home and in the workplace.

In the works is WomenTalk Radio, a podcast series about inspirational women across Asia.

WomenTalk, which employs three full-time and four part-time staff, takes up the bulk of Olsen's time, although she still hosts events from time to time.

She says: "Even as we grow, I like to be as involved as possible, but that's easy because I want to do it. These amazing women that I get the chance to meet, they constantly remind me why I'm doing this every day."

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

• For more details, go to womentalktv.asia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Web series picked for British film fest'. Print Edition | Subscribe