Every year, the Youth Free Expression Program (YFEP) invites young filmmakers to create a short film on a contemporary First Amendment issue. This year, the topic for the Youth Free Expression Film Contest is "What Does Free Speech Mean to Me?".

Although it’s a founding principle of the United States, the term “Free Speech” has been used in many different ways by many different people. From limits on what can be taught in schools to arguments over who should be allowed to decide what is allowed on social media, from “cancel culture” and laws infringing on the right to protest, free speech has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. But what does it mean to you–as a student, as a citizen, as a human being?

Create a video (up to 3 minutes) using film, animation, photographs, music, or anything else to explore what free speech means to you–a student, a citizen and a human.

Be thoughtful. Be creative. Be original. Be uncensored.

Here are some questions to inspire your film (although these are by no means exhaustive!):
- How does your right to express yourself–or feeling that you cannot–affect your life?
- Is there more to free speech than the First Amendment?
- Does free speech mean speech without consequence?

About the YFEP Film Contest:

The Youth Free Expression Program empowers youth with knowledge, tools, and opportunities to assert and defend their right to free expression.

The annual Youth Free Expression Film Contest invites teen filmmakers to address a timely, relevant free speech topic. Past contests have explored censorship questions about video games, comedy, sex ed, social media, and protest.

NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program Film Contest is made possible by a partnership with the New York Film Academy.

The first-place winner receives a scholarship to the New York Film Academy (terms and conditions apply). The top three filmmakers (individual or team) will receive cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250.

Contest Rules

1. All films must be uploaded to the YFEP FilmFreeway page no later than 11:59 p.m. on September 19, 2022.

2. Films cannot exceed three minutes, We know the importance of recognizing all contributors to your film, so credit sequences are not included in the 3-minute run time. Please keep credits as short as possible, not to exceed 30 seconds.

3. All films must address the topic: "What Does Free Speech Mean to Me?”

4. All members of the filmmaking crew must be age 19 or younger on the day the film is submitted. Actors or interviewees in the film can be any age. If working under the direction of a teacher, mentor, or parent, that person must describe his/her role in detail. Contestants must be either living in the U.S. or its territories (but need not be citizens).

5. Films may be submitted by teams, however, please note that for each winning film, any prize money will be split evenly among the team members and scholarship opportunities may be limited.

6. All entries must be accompanied by an artist’s statement (no more than 500 words) explaining the artist’s intended message, the creative process, and technical accomplishments. All participants should be identified and their roles in the film stated.

7. Filmmakers must either i) live in the United States or its territories (such as Puerto Rico) at the time of submission OR ii) attend an American school endorsed by the US State Department's Office of Overseas Schools. For a complete list of State Department endorsed schools, click here: https://www.state.gov/m/a/os/c1684.htm.

8. The film must be accompanied by the tagline "This film was created for the National Coalition Against Censorship" in the credits.

9. Finalists will be asked to submit a digital copy of their film and to sign a release form granting the National Coalition Against Censorship the rights to use, display or distribute the film in carrying out the National Coalition Against Censorship's educational mission, as well as for marketing purposes. The National Coalition Against Censorship does not limit the original creator's use of the work in any way.

Visit ncac.org/filmcontest for more information.