The Open Mind Film Festival 2022 is presented by The Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. The Friends is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental health issues.

This second annual Film Festival is open to high school students throughout the United States. Students are invited to submit short films highlighting their experiences and concerns about mental health. We are interested in stories of people living with mental illness, and ways mental health issues impact all of us.

The questions below may trigger ideas on how you view mental health:

Are you depressed or anxious?
Do you or a friend have an eating disorder?
Are you struggling with addiction?

Use your cell phone or a video camera to create a short film to tell us your unique story.

Please email us at to ask any questions and to let us know you will be submitting.

The Film Festival is scheduled for April 28, 2022. Selected films will be screened at The James Bridges Theatre on the UCLA campus.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges composed of UCLA Film School faculty and students, Friends of The Semel Institute Board members, entertainment industry professionals, and Semel Institute faculty.

In addition to a Best Picture Award, our judging panel will determine other awards in various categories based on the submissions we receive.

-Eligibility: Open to all students (grades 9-12) currently enrolled in high school in the United States. There is no fee for submitting a film.

-Length of Film: 5 minutes maximum. We encourage the submission of shorter works so that we can showcase more filmmakers.

-We accept all forms of film including narratives, documentaries, animations, music videos, and public service announcements.

-Each film must be submitted with a FilmFreeway submission info form. Filmmakers will also be asked to submit a film via Vimeo.

-We will be accepting films until March 11, 2022. All qualified films will be viewed by a panel of judges.

-Winners agree to participate in the Open Mind Film Festival event.

-We are interested in the ideas and concerns of young filmmakers and are open to all content, however films which are excessively violent or sexually exploitive will likely not be selected.

-By submitting a film to the Open Mind Film Festival, the filmmaker(s) acknowledges, represents and affirms that he/she has:

*obtained consent from any and all other persons or entities who have ownership rights, licenses or interests (including without limitation, intellectual property rights, rights of publicity, distribution licenses, etc.) in the film, and
* obtained and otherwise cleared any and all rights to all materials included in such film (including, without limitation, with respect to all music included in the film, all copyrighted works and trademarked content used in the film, all participants featured in the film, etc).

-By participating in this festival you agree to follow the CDC Covid-19 safety guidelines and precautions.

Overall Rating
  • Erin Kokdil

    This film festival was incredibly well run. The communication was consistent and clear. We appreciate the fact that a participant from our Youth Media Academy was able to share her film and that conversations surrounding mental health are being destigmatized.

    May 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Erin..We hope the Youth Media Academy will submit films for the 2022 Festival as well.