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Speak Truth to Power video contestants shine at Tribeca Festival

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Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights on Thursday announced five students as winners of the 2022 Speak Truth to Power video contest at an event held at the Tribeca Film Screening Room in New York.

“Your commitment to human rights, your commitment to creating a more just and peaceful world is a source of inspiration to all of us”, said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, saluting the creativity and talent of the participants and winners.

Rhianna Searle, a student of George School in Newtown, Pa., won this year’s Grand Prize for the submission “When Home is the Mouth of a Shark.” The short film highlights the work of Lindsey Stephenson, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University who has devoted her time as volunteer coordinator at the Muslim Center of Greater Princeton, to supporting Afghan refugees in the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from the country last summer.

In her acceptance speech, Searle paid tribute to film as a powerful tool of storytelling. “Film is an important medium for social justice because it has the power to tell emotional stories,” she said. “Films can outlive stories that would otherwise be left untold—stories that are often left in the shadows but are in reality the sunshine that light up our world."

Other winners include: “Halt Solitary” by Bianca Colon and Simon Zhou; “Reproductive Rights” by Soryn Cline; “Stop Pebble Mine” by Mason Mirabelle and “The Power of Faces: A Human Story” by Lauren Weizer.

Now in its tenth year, the Speak Truth to Power video contest encourages middle school and high school students to develop interest in key human rights issues through creative storytelling. Students from low-income communities can participate in the contest without needing expensive equipment or prior video editing skills.

The work continues: as a follow-up to what the students learned while filming the Grand Prize winning video, "When Home is the Mouth of a Shark", 4 students from George School will be spending their summer volunteering with an Afghan family.

Over the summer, the students will spend every Saturday with the children of one family and help them learn basic English, use arts and crafts to explore the kids’ interests, and read basic books together to improve the kids’ reading and conversation skills.

They plan on creating bookmarks with the children and sell them with the proceeds going back to the family for the children's needs.