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 BODY LANGUAGE.

Freedom of expression is about more than our words: how we dress, do our hair, or even dance all allow us to express who we are and what we believe. Yet, US public schools often limit students’ ability to express themselves through their appearance. All kinds of stylistic expression (hats, mini skirts, tattoos, etc.) are off-limits at one public school or another. But punishment is disproportionately targeted at students who don’t conform to traditional gender expression. In some schools, girls have been banned from wearing tuxedos in the school yearbook, in others, boys haven’t been allowed to wear earrings. And the problem appears to be growing.

Create a video (up to 3 minutes) using film, animation, photographs, music, or anything else to show the importance of expressing one’s gender and identity through personal appearance.

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

Here are some questions to inspire your film (although these are by no means exhaustive!):

- Do you feel constrained by your school, social media, your parents, or your community in how you express your identity? Or perhaps a different authority not listed here? How and why do you feel censored?
- How does censorship of gender or identity expression affect you and/or those around you? Does it have a broader impact on your community?

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.

Alex Gino, Author
Julian Winters, Author
Gina Leonetti, Filmmaker
Andrea Swift, Filmmaker and Chair of Filmmaking at NYFA
Jonathan Whittaker, Filmmaker and Chair of Short-Term Intensive Programs at NYFA

Contest Rules

1. All films must be uploaded to the YFEP FilmFreeway page no later than 11:59 p.m. on December 3, 2021.

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: "Body Language”

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.