2022 Speak Truth to Power Video Contest

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. 

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

2022 Panel of Judges: COMING SOON

Contest Deadline: April 20, 11:59 PM EDT 

Questions? Email Ben at Higgins@rfkhumanrights.org


1. Select a Human Rights Defender from the STTP Lesson Plans or identify a Defender who has worked to promote, protect or advance human rights locally, nationally, or internationally. You can also find a list of STTP Defenders here.

2. Check out previous contest winners and review these resources to learn more about editing, lighting, sound, and camera work. 

3. Create a 3-5 minute video that utilizes creative storytelling to engage the viewer in a human rights issue. Videos should creatively answer most of the questions below. The chosen defender/topic as well as the selected storytelling format should guide your decision on what to include in the film. 

Consider these questions to guide your story-making process:

  • What is the human rights issue? 
  • How does the HR issue relate to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
  • How did the Defender attempt to improve the situation? 
  • What is the connection between your chosen defender and the work of RFK? (you can use quotes, archival footage or include a connection in the film’s narration) 
  • How is the human rights issue connected to your community?
  • What can the Defenders’ work teach us?
  • How can someone help with this issue and be a Defender?
  • What have you done to uplift your community as a result of making your video?

4. Creative storytelling is encouraged!  The format is open to:

  • Documentary
  • Stop motion
  • Narrative
  • Digital photo essay
  • Public service announcement
  • Short form comedy
  • Drama
  • Experimental
  • iPhone only
  • Other innovative techniques 

5.  Make sure your video follows Copyright & Fair Use rules.

6. Submit your film by April 20, 11:59 PM EDT on our entry portal (coming soon!).   

7.  Let everyone know how art can create a more just and peaceful world by spreading the word about the contest through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat!



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 

NEW FOR 2022

Honorable Mention

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