Speak Truth to Power Video Contest

Guidelines, resources, and submissions portal

In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers and the Tribeca Festival, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights created the annual Speak Truth to Power Video Contest, encouraging middle and high school students to use film as a tool to discuss human rights issues that resonate with them. In creating these short three- to five-minute videos, whether they be documentaries, narrative films, or experimental, students not only learn about human rights but also become champions of change and social justice. Students from all backgrounds can participate in the contest without needing expensive equipment or prior video editing skills. This year, special awards will be presented to filmmakers who use only an iPhone to create their videos.

The Grand Prize winner will participate in a Tribeca Festival event in New York City, where their video will premiere.

This year’s Speak Truth to Power competition will also bring together students, educators, and human rights defenders, for the first-ever Archewell Foundation Award for Gender Equity in Student Film. The Award will recognize students who have harnessed the power of visual storytelling to highlight a woman who has uplifted her community and, in doing so, changed the course of history for women everywhere. The new award will be presented along with the Grand Prize winner during a 2023 Tribeca Festival event in New York City.

The Grand Prize winner and The Archewell Foundation Award for Gender Equity in Student Film winner will participate in a Tribeca Festival event in New York City, where the videos will premiere.

Submissions are judged by a panel of film industry experts, actors, and educators.

Contest Deadline: April 26, 2023 11:59 p.m. EDT


Email Ben Higgins at Higgins@rfkhumanrights.org or Allison Gilmore at gilmore@rfkhumanrights.org

Prizes and Awards

Grand Prize

Winners will travel to New York to participate in the Tribeca Festival, where their film will premiere at a special Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights event.

First, second, and third place winners for the high school (grades 9-12) and middle school (grades 6-8) levels will receive a certificate and a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights prize package.

Depending on the entries received, additional awards may be given to:

  • Most creative

  • Best video created with only an iPhone

  • School or community projects inspired by the creation of your video

Honorable Mention

25 films will receive honorable mentions, and the filmmakers and their teachers will receive RFK Human Rights T-shirts!

Four Highlights from Past Winners

2020 Grand Prize Winner: “Police Brutality: Opening Our Eyes to Injustice” by Sanchali Pothuru of Carmel High School in Indiana

2019 Grand Prize Winner: “Rodney Glasgow: The Power of a Whisper” by students from the George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania

2018 Grand Prize Winner: “Gary Tyler, My Neighbor” by Mwï Epalle and Ming-Wei Fasquelle of the International School of Los Angeles

2017 First Place Winner: “LGBTQ Rights in America” by Catherine Cramer, Bridget Neumann, and Veronica Ryan of Skaneateles High School in New York

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