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, special awards will be presented to filmmakers who use only an iPhone to create their videos.

The Grand Prize winner will participate in a Tribeca Festival event in New York City, where their video will premiere.

This year’s Speak Truth to Power competition will also bring together students, educators, and human rights defenders, for the first-ever Archewell Foundation Award for Gender Equity in Student Film. The Award will recognize students who have harnessed the power of visual storytelling to highlight a woman who has uplifted her community and, in doing so, changed the course of history for women everywhere. The new award will be presented along with the Grand Prize winner during a 2023 Tribeca Festival event in New York City.

Archewell Foundation is an impact-driven non-profit created by Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The foundation's core purpose is to uplift and unite communities - local and global, online and offline - one act of compassion at a time. Learn more at

The Grand Prize winner and The Archewell Foundation Award for Gender Equity in Student Film winner will participate in a Tribeca Festival event in New York City, where the videos will premiere.

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

Contest Deadline: April 26, 2023 11:59 p.m. EDT


Email Ben Higgins at or Allison Gilmore at

Grand Prize

Winners will travel to New York to participate in the Tribeca Festival, where their film will premiere at a special Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights event.

First, second, and third place winners for the high school (grades 9-12) and middle school (grades 6-8) levels will receive a certificate and a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights prize package.

Depending on the entries received, additional awards may be given to:

Most creative

Best video created with only an iPhone

School or community projects inspired by the creation of your video

1. Select a Human Rights Defender from the STTP Lesson Plans or identify a Defender who has worked to promote, protect or advance human rights locally, nationally, or internationally. You can also find a list of STTP Defenders here.

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

3. Create 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.

Consider these questions to guide your story-making process:
** What is the human rights issue?
** How does the HR 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 RFK? (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 Defenders’ 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?

4. Creative storytelling is encouraged! The format is open to:
** Documentary
** Stop motion
** Narrative
** Digital photo essay
** Public service announcement
** Short form comedy
** Drama
** Experimental
** iPhone only
** Other innovative techniques

5. Make sure your video follows Copyright & Fair Use rules.

6. Submit your film by April 20, 11:59 PM EDT on our entry portal (coming soon!).

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

Overall Rating
  • Vittorio Caratozzolo

    We would have preferred to have access to a reference link with the selection results ... but we are still very happy with the attention received.
    Thank you very much... and read you soon !

    June 2022
  • Absolutely loved it, highly recommend it for everyone to enter!

    June 2022
  • Mohammad ferajzadeh

    The festival was very good.

    June 2022
  • Kayla Ring

    Great Film Festival! Amazing communication and great opportunities for winners! I was so honored to be an honorable mention and finalist. I’ll be submitting again next year!

    June 2022
  • Mason Mirabile

    It was a great event, very well managed and very exciting. I enjoyed meeting the other filmmakers and being in such a cool location like Tribeca in New York City. Great communication through the steps and I highly recommend!

    June 2022