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. Today, many notable personalities are stepping forward to tell stories and share struggles with issues that negatively impact their lives and their mental health. We invite students to join this important conversation by submitting short films that highlight the experiences and concerns they, or their friends, deal with on a daily basis. Use your cell phone or video camera to create a short film to tell us your unique story.

The host for the Festival is Grace Gaustad, singer-songwriter and producer, who released her debut album, BLKBX, in August 2021. Grace has appeared on The Today Show and CNN to talk about her struggles with mental health.

Please email us at to ask any questions.

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

First Prize: $500
Second Prize: $300
Friends Choice Award: $200

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges, including:

- Van Alpert, film director, music videographer and artist, who directed "Skategoat," a feature film about Venice Beach skater, Leandre Sanders, released in 2021

-Sheena Brevig, a filmmaker and communications coach with a background in neuroscience and Director of DEI Workshops for the Center for Scholars and Storytellers based at UCLA. Sheena created, directed and stars in "Crazy," a queer, Asian, mental health webseries (coming soon), leveraging media to break stigma and create a more inclusive world.

- Zach Gottlieb, founder of Talk With Zach, a Gen Z social media movement that hosts conversations on issues impacting teenagers to change the culture, inspire activism and make the world a better place

-Jen Greenstreet, MidAmerican Emmy award winning filmmaker and founder of Just Like You Films, a company that makes films about real life stories that teach all of us are more alike than we are different. Jen is the director and writer of the film "Just Like You - Anxiety and Depression" which will be released March 8, 2022.

-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 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
  • Verdult V

    Amazing festival that promotes a space for high schoolers to share their experiences with mental health. I am so grateful to have been selected for Open Mind’s Festival!

    May 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Winston. We were very happy to include Desired Reality!

  • Danielle Mannion

    This festival was extremely professional and powerful! This organization cares about students and that came accross in every communication from the staff. We are so grateful to have this real world application for our student's film.

    May 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Danielle, We were so pleased to include Life Support! We hope to see more films from your students for our Open Mind 2023.

  • 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.