Chris Temple & Zach Ingrasci

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We’d love to speak with your school, community, or conference! We’re available for virtual or in-person events that will be tailored to your needs. 

Co-Founders of Optimist
Award-Winning Documentary Filmmakers

First they survived for two months on $1 a day in Guatemala. Soon after, they lived in a tent in a Syrian refugee camp. And most recently, spent 10 years documenting the journey of an undocumented boy in New York City. Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci are award-winning filmmakers and activists, who on-stage, demystify some of the world’s most complex situations — leaving audiences more connected and empowered to make a difference. 

As co-founders of the non-profit Optimist, Chris and Zach have created over 15 films and series that have raised $92 million dollars for the films’ causes — changing over 389,000 lives. Their films have been released globally by HBO, Netflix, Amazon, National Geographic, and The Atlantic

Chris and Zach have received widespread acclaim as bold storytellers and compassionate leaders of social justice — honored with the Muslim Public Affairs Council Annual Media Award, and recognized alongside Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie as two of the top 100 visionary leaders by YPO’s Real Leaders Magazine. They have been called upon to share their expertise at TEDx, the United Nations, and the World Humanitarian Summit, and have been featured on CBS This Morning, as well as in major publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Variety

They are best known for directing the feature documentaries Living On One Dollar, Salam Neighbor, and Five Years North, but their gift for storytelling also extends to the business world. As entrepreneurs, they’ve spoken at World 50 and WPO, and have collaborated with global brands, including Google, to tell their brand stories and expand their philanthropic impact. They were honored by HBO and DOCNYC as 40 under 40 top filmmakers in 2022.

Chris and Zach’s own journey began almost accidentally, and at a conference. As speakers, they are equal parts inspiring and relatable, while the stories they share are guaranteed to generate empathy and to humanize the world’s most complex and divisive issues. They are available together, but more typically as single speakers. All their complete documentaries are also available to license for screenings.

What People are saying

Chris and Zach are pushing the boundaries of how we tell stories and maximize social impact in the 21st century. At such a young age, they bring passion matched with professionalism and a humble respect for the people they’re seeking to help. They make an excellent addition to any panel or keynote.

Carolyn Miles, Former CEO of Save the Children

[Chris and Zach] don’t just make documentaries. They make themselves part of the story.


These young people are not just gifted documentarians, they are micro-economists who offer a real world glimpse into third world poverty—and, perhaps more surprisingly, real world answers.

Gary Ross, Director of The Hunger Games

What I love about this film is the resilience it reveals…what you’ll see, as Chris and Zach saw when they moved into Za’atari camp, is that beyond headlines, behind the labels, are people that every one of you can relate to.

Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan

With several award-winning films and a 5-star presentation, Chris and Zach brought a complete package to our school. They’re relatable and inspiring, and most importantly, their efforts translated into action for my students.

Jeanette, Teacher at Parkway South High School

On a subject too often discussed in numbers, Chris and Zach capture the human element of one of the greatest refugee crises of this generation.

Ted Lieu, U.S. Congressman

Their film captures the craziness of the internet and blends it with empathetic storytelling, fascinating characters, and financial concepts in a thought-provoking masterpiece.

Taylor Lorenz, Washington Post

Speaking Topics

In almost 15 years as independent filmmakers and activists, Chris and Zach have been embedded in communities facing some of the most difficult circumstances. They’ve reported first hand on the devastating effects of war, climate change, hunger, and abject poverty. And after all of it, they still believe there’s a reason to be optimistic. Because in communities around the world, they’ve seen people step up to face injustice—and win. For years, Chris and Zach have captivated audiences with this talk about actionable optimism, that’s both personal and practical. Audiences will gain empathy through the stories of Rosa, the first indigenous woman in her community to go to college, or Ismail, a Syrian refugee and teacher fighting for the next generation. And they will be equipped with the tools that they need to create change through the speaker’s personal journey to help raise over $92 million dollars for social causes. When we’re faced with so much hardship in the world, believing that progress is possible isn’t naive, it’s necessary. Watch a teaser here.  

Inspiring and practical for all audiences

Money is vitally important to our day to day lives, yet only 22% of high school graduates have ever taken a personal finance class. And 79% of young people are turning to TikTok and YouTube as their primary source of information. These statistics become even scarier in today’s financial markets that seem to defy logic—whether that’s Meme Stocks, cryptocurrencies or Elon Musk. Chris & Zach have interviewed hundreds of investors from all walks of life, including some of the world’s leading financial experts. They’ve packaged their learnings into a 2023 Tribeca feature documentary and a powerful keynote presentation that incorporates evocative and cinematic stories from the film. This talk will be the most entertaining conversation about money that you’ve ever seen, providing a breath of fresh air. Everyone is guaranteed to walk away with practical tools for their own personal relationship with money, and a deeper understanding of the systemic and cultural factors driving behavior in today’s financial markets.

Inspiring and practical for all audiences

There are now over 100 million people displaced around the world, and it’s only growing. Award-winning director’s Chris & Zach have spent eight years immersed into the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers, both in Syria and across Central America. They’ve shared their learnings in two award-winning feature documentaries, SALAM NEIGHBOR (Netflix) and FIVE YEARS NORTH (PBS), spoken at the World Humanitarian Summit, and helped raise $89 million dollars for refugee causes. Their talk helps reimagine more humane migration policies globally, drawing from historical context and contemporary storytelling. Instead of warehousing people in refugee camps, how do we unlock the potential of refugees? Instead of militarizing immigration policies, how do we reframe through the lens of labor needs? The core lesson of injecting humanity into big policy solutions is timely and incredibly applicable to anyone hoping to make a difference in the world. 

Inspiring and practical for all audiences

Over 1.1 billion people in the world survive on less than $1 a day. This talk will take you beyond this statistic and demonstrate how innovative families are to survive life on the edge. Join accidental filmmakers Chris and Zach, whose research project living on $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala led the duo to find an unexpected passion. What began as a moment of curiosity has grown into two award-winning documentaries distributed by Netflix, over $1.5 million raised directly for poverty alleviation, and a clear understanding that the poor are our best partners in ending extreme poverty. Through engaging use of video, personal stories, and research, Chris and Zach will help you build empathy for others around the world, achieve a sense of gratitude for the opportunities at your fingertips, practice curiosity to discover your passion, and equip yourself with the tools you need to create change.

Inspiring and practical for all audiences