October 2012 Issue
September 27, 2012

Student video contest seeks aspiring filmmakers

Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Some of the student filmmakers from Saratoga BOCES, along with teachers, teacher assistants and NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler, center, attend the Tribeca Film Festival. Their documentary took first place in the 2012 Speak Truth to Power video contest, sponsored by NYSUT and the RFK center. Photo by Maria R. Bastone.

Bullying prevention. Ending child labor. Combatting poverty. Stopping genocide. Standing for religious and political freedoms.

These are among the host of social justice issues students can champion through film in the second annual Speak Truth To Power Student Video Contest.

The contest, sponsored by NYSUT and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, encourages middle and high school students to become engaged in human rights causes and to inspire them to pursue leadership roles in a democratic citizenry.

"As educators, we have a fundamental responsibility to teach our students that a socially just world is one that affords all individuals and groups fair treatment and equal access to society's opportunities," said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler, who oversees the union's social justice program. Contest participants must choose one of the RFK Center human rights defenders identified on the site — www.speaktruthvideo.com — and create a three-to-six-minute video that utilizes creative storytelling to teach others about a human rights issue.

Teacher-artists from the Tribeca Film Institute are holding a four-hour workshop this month — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 13 at UFT headquarters in New York City — to help educators teach students about documentary filmmaking. Other sessions are being planned for western New York and the North Country. Check www.nysut.org for more information.

Last year, more than 150 videos were entered.

Students at Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES garnered the contest’s grand prize. Their video, inspired by Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, was featured at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

The contest opened Oct. 1; deadline for submissions is Jan. 31. The grand-prize winning video will be shown at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. To learn more, visit www.speaktruthvideo.com.