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First place:

A New Way Home

by Ben Tuller

A New Way Home portrays a day in the life at George Mark Children's House, the only pediatric end-of-life care facility of its kind in the United States. After graduating from UC San Diego. filmmaker Ben Tuller began volunteering at George Mark to better understand the incredible work they provide to families in need.

When George Mark Children’s House was forced to close its doors in early 2010 because of a lack of funding, Ben Tuller, a volunteer at the house, picked up his camera and decided to make a short film portraying the incredible impact the program has on families’ lives. “I believe that film can bring positive change to the world; even the smallest organizations and the shortest films can make a world of difference,” says Ben. Watch the film and you’ll see what he means. Thanks to the work of Ben and a dedicated staff, the organization is up and running again with a reinvigorated spirit. “Ben is incredibly compassionate and all the families agreed he was the one to tell their stories,” commented Teri Rose, Community Relations Manager. The organization offers respite, transitional, and end of life care to children with life limiting illnesses and their families.

Second place:

Chess Saved My Life

by Bao Nguyen

A short piece about Chess-in-the-Schools. Chess-in-the-Schools is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving academic performance and building self-esteem by teaching chess among inner-city public school children in New York City.

Bao Nguyen is a photographer and filmmaker in New York whose previous career was in the nonprofit sector in a development department. From that experience he learned just how powerful short films can be to raising money, as a way to “exemplify the spirit of the organization.” Chess in Schools will teach 13,000 students to play chess in 50 schools this year in their quest to improve academic performance and build self-esteem among public school children. They plan to screen Bao’s film at a benefit dinner for a group of 250 supporters of the organization.

Under 18 winner:

Independence in Sight

by Lauren Lindberg, Sydney Matterson, Julian Compagni-Portis, Bonita Tindle

Vision-impaired teenagers strive to achieve their independence with the living skills they learn at the Hatlen Center for the Blind.

Lauren’s film about the Hatlen Center for the Blind was a project from a youth program she is an avid member of, called The Factory. Although she is the winner of the under-18 award and a senior in high school, she is not a novice filmmaker; she has been making movies since age 9. After working on the film she commented that she “has a new perspective of what life is like for the visually impaired” and “found [herself] inspired by the Hatlen students’ determination.” The Hatlen Center works with visually impaired students to build “transition skills,” to help them lead independent lives. View the video to see the powerful story of the Center and how they change lives every day.

Honorable mentions:

Operation Breaking Stereotypes

by Gwyn Welles

Operation Breaking Stereotypes is a 5-minute video that brings to life the work and spirit of Operation Breaking Stereotypes (OBS). OBS is an innovative non-profit organization that facilitates exchanges between American teenagers from disparate walks of life in order to replace seeds of prejudice with real-life experiences.

Gwyn Welles found her film about Operation Breaking Stereotypes (OBS) while working as an Administrator at a public school in New York City. “While collaborating with OBS co-founder Connie Carter on an exchange involving our students, I realized that this was a potentially pivotal experience in the lives of my students,” says Gwyn, “one which needed to be captured on film.” The program facilitates exchanges between urban schools in New York City and schools in Maine to find commonalities across socially constructed boundaries. Following an exchange with OBS, Gwyn produced her first documentary project, which led to a 60 minute feature called “Welcome to My World,” now screening at festivals. This launched a career change for her into documentary film.

The Family Center

by Nick Kaufman

Juliet is a poor, single mother who lost custody of her children due to drug addiction. After developing new life skills and inner strengths in The Family Center's Parenting Journey program, she was able to recover her children from the court and establish a healthier family with networks of resources they need to succeed.

Nick Kaufman was “moved by the transformational impact the Family Center has on struggling parents and families,” which led to his touching piece on the organization. He has been making films for over thirty years and particularly values films that make a difference. “Video has the potential to create emotional stories that can change the way people think and live,” Kaufman says, and his short video on The Family Center does just that.

That's Not Me

by Matthew Moser

A documentary film about a young woman named Alex recalling what her life was like while being homeless in Orange County. Facing abuse, hunger, rape and drugs she overcame adversity and due to a local non-profit, Colette's Children's Home was able to climb out from the streets.

“I had never seen a group of people work so hard to catalyze change,” Bobby Moser says of Collette’s Children’s Home. Bobby’s hometown is Odenton, Maryland, but he is currently a student of Documentary Film at Chapman University. Here he began pursuing a career in Hollywood until a documentary class changed his prospective. “I could never come up with a story as compelling as someone’s real life experience,” he says. His desire to inspire change led him to make a film on Collette’s Children’s Home, which he provided to them for their own fundraising efforts at no cost.