In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers and the Tribeca Festival, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights created the annual Speak Truth to Power Video Contest, encouraging middle and high school students to use film as a tool to discuss human rights issues that resonate with them. In creating these short three- to five-minute videos, whether they be documentaries, narrative films, or experimental, students not only learn about human rights but also become champions of change and social justice. Students from all backgrounds can participate in the contest without needing expensive equipment or prior video editing skills.

This year’s Speak Truth to Power competition will include a new category for post-secondary students. College and university students are encouraged to submit a human rights based short film based on the RFK College Guidelines.

Winning films will be featured at a special showcase in conjunction with the annual Tribeca Festival event in New York City.

Submissions are judged by a panel of film industry experts, actors, and educators.

Contest Deadline: April 26, 2024 11:59 p.m. EDT

Questions? Email Benjamin Higgins at or Karen Robinson

Finalists will be invited to New York to participate in the Tribeca Film Festival, where their film will premiere at a special Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights event. The award winners will be announced at the film premiere. Winners will receive a certificate and a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights prize package.


Grand Prize

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

College Entry Award


25 films will receive honorable mentions, and the filmmakers and their teachers will receive RFK Human Rights T-shirts!

The STTP Video Contest is designed to engage students in human rights by creating a 3-5 minute video that utilizes creative storytelling to engage the viewer in a human rights issue. Videos should creatively answer most of the questions below. The chosen defender/topic, as well as, the selected storytelling format should guide your decision on what to include in the film.

What is the human rights issue?

How does the human rights issue relate to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

How did the defender attempt to improve the situation?

What is the connection between your chosen defender and the work of Robert F. Kennedy? (you can use quotes, archival footage or include a connection in the film’s narration)

How is the human rights issue connected to your community?

What can the defender’s work teach us?

How can someone help with this issue and be a defender?

What have you done to uplift your community as a result of making your video?

RFK will be awarding one College Winner at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2024. College entries should be 3-5 minutes in length and focus on a specific contemporary human rights issue. Films should be creative and inspire the viewer to take action. The inclusion of a specific human rights defender is optional for the College category.

All submissions should follow Copyright & Fair Use rules. Click this link for a tutorial on how to find free music and images.

When approaching the contest, please consider the following steps.

Select a Human Rights Defender from the STTP Defenders page or identify a Defender who has worked to promote, protect or advance human rights locally, nationally, or internationally.

Check out previous contest winners and review these resources to learn more about lighting, sound, and camera work.

Let everyone know how art can create a more just and peaceful world by spreading the word about the contest through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Overall Rating
  • salah boufellah

    Overall, a good opportunity for young people

    June 2024
  • Shyam ma

    Wonderful film festival for students

    June 2024
  • I was very happy to be involved in your festival. Thank you for your honorary award. Your communication was fast and effective. Love to the whole team.

    June 2024
  • Ilysa Spencer

    Thank you so much for recognizing our visionary storytelling and including us in your kindred festival, hopefully next year I can attend! Dr. ilysa-

    July 2023
  • Asher Anantham

    Great opportunity for young filmmakers!

    July 2023