More than 1,000 youth from across California attended events organized by Directing Change at the end of May in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the young filmmakerswho have decided to use their own voices to direct change. The Awards Ceremony took place on May 22nd, to a full house at the historic Theatre at the Ace Hotel. Statewide winners also had the opportunity to network and participate in panels about how to pursue both their passion for advocacy and interest in film in the future the evening before at the Millennium Biltmore.
Top Youth Filmmakers Networked with Entertainment and Advocacy Professionals in Downtown Los Angeles
On the evening of May 21st, 70 students from across California came together to participate in a social justice networking night sponsored by Directing Change and the Social Changery. In addition to an exciting live performance by local rap artist Tarzan, youth from around the state participated in discussions with professionals from various industries, including film, animation, music, and social justice. Participants engaged in meaningful conversations around how to integrate social justice into their current world as youth advocates and in their future careers.
Speakers included the executive producer of Fox’s “9-1-1” and director of “Glee”, a successful S.A.G. stuntwoman, the Vice President of Original Series at Cartoon Network, and the director/producer of the award-winning documentaries “Of Two Minds” and “The S Word”, plus many more professionals. The four stations that youth rotated through were:
- Mental Health and Advocacy– How youth can be involved in advocacy now and career paths.
- Music and Social Justice– How artists have used music to promote social justice and career paths.
- Directing Change– Perspectives about film industry professional about working on films and documentaries with a social justice focus, tips for aspiring filmmakers.
- Animation-Tips from professional that are using animation for social change such as the Cartoon Network.
Students had the opportunity to talk about their personal experiences, network with professionals and other young filmmakers from around the state, and also enjoy a dinner at the beautiful Millennium Biltmore hotel.
Statewide Winners Recognized at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles
More than 1,200 guests attended the red carpet awards ceremony and top films screening in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 22nd to celebrate the achievement of young filmmakers across the state. Youth filmmakers from across California were given awards for their short films to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention in several categories, including Mental Health Matters, Suicide Prevention, Through the Lens of Culture and SanaMente – categories focused on the experience of diverse communities – and Animated Short, a new category introduced this year.
The awards ceremony also celebrates outstanding achievement by directors, producers and actors of film and television who serve as role models to the aspiring student filmmakers in the audience by using their platform to draw attention to mental health. Actress and mental health activist, Mädchen Amick, star of The CW’s Riverdale, received the Directing Change Award of Excellence for Mental Health Advocacy to acknowledge her tireless efforts to raise awareness, fight stigma and increase mental health care access. Director and writer Lisa Klein was honored for THE S WORD, a documentary film about suicide that explores the shame and confusion contrasted with an emerging era of activism, recovery and hope.
More than 1,100 students from 15 Los Angeles-area middle and high schools filled the auditorium along with celebrity guests, including Hart Denton who presented the award to Amick, his “Riverdale” co-star, Eric Bigger from ABC’s Bachelorette season 13 and “Bigger Talks” podcast host, and CeCe Valencia, on-air radio personality with Power 106.
The ceremony also included a musical performance by William Pete Knight High School from Palmdale, CA.
This year the film contest received 742 submissions, representing 2,430 youth from 164 schools and organizations across the state. Entries were judged by nearly 300 advocates and professionals in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media, and television and film professional.
To view films and for a complete list of statewide and regional winners, honorable mentions and special recognitions, visit www.directingchangeca.org/films. You can read more about the awards ceremony and other mental health programming across California on the Each Mind Matters Blog.