The Open Mind Film Festival 2023 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 third annual Open Mind Film Festival is open to high school students throughout the United States. We invite students to join the important conversation on mental health by submitting short films that highlight their experiences and concerns. Use your cell phone or video camera to create a short film to tell us your unique story.

The festival will be hosted by Bryan Greenberg, actor and filmmaker with multiple credits, including the TV series How to Make it in America and One Tree Hill, and the films The Perfect Score, Prime, Bride Wars and Friends with Benefits. Bryan made his directorial debut in 2022 with the film Junction.

Please email us at to ask any questions.

The Film Festival is scheduled for April 30, 2023. Selected films will be screened in a virtual format OR possibly at The James Bridges Theatre on the UCLA campus.

First Prize: $1,000
Second Prize: $600
Friends Choice Award: $400

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges which will include:

Zach Gottlieb, a high school student and the creator of @Talk with Zach, an Instagram platform for teen conversations. @TalkwithZach

Lauren Greenfield, an Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker and the founder of the production company Girl Culture. @greenfield_lauren

AJ Mendez, a mental health activist, author of the New York Times bestseller Crazy is My SuperPower and co-author of the Netflix film Blade of the 47 Ronin. @theajmendez

Henry Platt, a singer based in New York City and a mental health advocate. @henryjplatt

-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 information form.

-We will be accepting films until March 11, 2023. All qualified films will be viewed by a panel of judges.

-Please feel free to include a film poster using the tools available on FilmFreeway. This is not a required part of your submission.

-Finalists agree to have their films shown at the Open Mind Film Festival event and to have their content used in promotional materials for the festival.

-Finalist filmmakers will be asked to submit a Vimeo version of their film and to submit a very brief recorded video introduction to their film.

-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.