2023 FINALISTS

The 11th annual Social Impact Media Awards is honored to present this year’s finalists:

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

40 STEPS

Director and Producer: Gad Aisen
Co-Director: Manor Birman
Israel

An orthodox school in south Tel Aviv is divided into half for a new secular elementary school. In a shared playground, both schools must coexist, while the identity of different communities are put to the test.

AND SO I STAYED

Director: Natalie Pattillo and Daniel A. Nelson
Producers: Natalie Pattillo, Daniel A. Nelson, EP Natalie Schreyer
USA

And So I Stayed is an award-winning documentary about survivors of abuse fighting for their lives and spending years behind bars. This is the story of how the legal system gets domestic violence wrong.

BLACK MAMBAS

Director: Lena Karbe
Producers: Lena Karbe, Jan Vasak and Ramadan Suleman
South Africa | Mozambique

“Black Mambas” are the first all-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa assigned to protect the Big Five (Elephants, Rhinos, Lions, Leopards, Buffalo) in the Greater Kruger Park. Chosen by the (mostly white male) conservation committees as a vital marketing tool, the women stand at the crossroads of progress and a colonial past.

DELIKADO

Director: Karl Malakunas
Producers: Marty Syjuco, Michael Collins and Kara Magsanoc-alikpala
Philippines

Palawan appears to be an idyllic tropical island. Its powder-white beaches and lush forests have made it one of Asia’s hottest new tourist destinations. But for a tiny network of environmental crusaders and vigilantes trying to protect its spectacular natural resources, it is more akin to a battlefield. DELIKADO follows Bobby, Tata and Nieves, three magnetic leaders of this network, as they risk their lives in David versus Goliath-style struggles trying to stop politicians and businessmen from destroying the Philippines’ “last ecological frontier”.It is a timely film emblematic of the struggles globally for land defenders as they are being killed in record numbers trying to save natural resources from being plundered by corporations and governments. As the world faces its sixth-mass extinction and the climate emergency worsens, DELIKADO offers a story of courage and resilience to inspire others into action.It is also a unique expose of President Rodrugo Duterte’s “war on drugs’ in the Philippines, which has claimed thousands of lives and the International Criminal Court of Justice has said may amount to a crime against humanity. DELIKADO shows the drug war is used as a tool for politicians to control the levers of economic and political power .DELIKADO offers a story of courage and resilience to inspire others into action.

ETERNAL SPRING (長春)

Director: Jason Loftus
Producers: Jason Loftus, Masha Loftus, Yvan Pinard and Kevin Koo
China | Korea | Canada | USA

Facing vilification of their banned faith in the Chinese state-run media, a soft-spoken engineer and a hulking grain worker hatch a plan to hijack the state TV airwaves. In the aftermath, police raids sweep Changchun City, and illustrator Daxiong (Justice League, Star Wars comics), is forced to flee. He arrives in North America, blaming the hijacking for worsening a violent repression. But his views are challenged when he meets the lone surviving hijacker to have escaped China, now living in Seoul. Daxiong retraces the story through the collective memories of witnesses, bringing it to life through his art.

FASHION REIMAGINED

Director: Becky Hutner
Producers: Becky Hutner, Lindsay Lowe and Andrea Van Beuren
UK

Fashion designer Amy Powney of cult label Mother of Pearl is a rising star in the London fashion scene. Raised off-the-grid in rural England by activist parents, Amy has always felt uneasy about the devastating environmental impact of her industry. When she wins the coveted Vogue award for the Best Young Designer of the Year, which comes with a big cash prize, Amy decides to use the money to create a sustainable collection from field to finished garment, and transform her entire business. Over the following three years, her own personal revolution becomes the precursor of a much bigger, societal change.

HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND

Director: Marusya Syroechkovskaya
Producers: Ksenia Gapchenko and Mario Adamson
Russia | Sweden | Norway | France | Germany

Marusya and Kimi are inseparable lovers coming-of-age as Russia’s nationalistic dreams take hold. Turning Marusya’s camera on themselves, the two capture the euphoric anxiety of their youth, burning the candle at both ends — but as one light burns brighter, the other may be extinguished forever. A message from a silenced generation.

LOWNDES COUNTY AND THE ROAD TO BLACK POWER

Director: Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir
Producers: Anya Rous, Jessica Devaney and Dema Paxton Fofang
USA

The passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act represented not the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement, but the beginning of a new, crucial chapter. Nowhere was this next battle better epitomized than Lowndes County, Alabama, a rural, impoverished town with a vicious history of racist terrorism. In a town that was eighty percent Black but had zero Black voters, laws were just paper without power. Through first person accounts and searing archival footage, LOWNDES COUNTY AND THE ROAD TO BLACK POWER tells the story of the local movement and young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers who fought not just for voting rights, but for Black Power in Lowndes County.

MYANMAR DIARIES

Director: Myanmar Film Collective
Producer: Corinne Van Egeraat
Myanmar

A hybrid documentary film about life under Myanmar’s junta regime of terror in the aftermath of the military coup of February 1st 2021, told through intimate personal stories. Winner of the prestigious Berlinale Documentary Award 2022.

NAVALNY

Director: Daniel Roher
Producers: Odessa Rae and P.G.A.; Diane Becker, P.G.A.; Melanie Miller, P.G.A.; Shane Boris, P.G.A.
Russia | Germany

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s leading opposition figure, was poisoned with a nerve agent and almost died on a flight from Siberia. NAVALNY unfolds in real-time as Putin’s fiercest critic teams with investigative journalists to ID the would-be killers and crack the case wide open.

NO SIMPLE WAY HOME

Director: Akuol de Mabior
Producers: Sam Soko, Tiny Mungwe, Don Edkins and Bramwel Iro
South Sudan | Kenya

As South Sudan hangs in the balance of a tenuous peace agreement, a mother and her two daughters return home from exile. The mother’s mission is to safeguard her late husband’s vision for their people, family, and country. Her daughters struggle to come to terms with what it means to call South Sudan home.

PRESIDENT

Director: Camilla Nielsson
Producers: Signe Byrge Sørensen and Joslyn Barnes
Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. In the first election since the removal of Robert Mugabe, the new leader of the opposition Nelson Chamisa is challenging the dictator’s corrupt legacy, and his successor Emmerson ‘the crocodile’ Mnangagwa. The election will be the ultimate test for both sides. How they interpret the principles of democracy, if they can inspire trust among the citizenry, not succumb to violence, and foster faith in institutions, will set the course for the future for the country. President is a riveting and epic reminder that, while specifics may differ, the fight for democracy is of universal relevance.

SANSÓN AND ME

Director: Rodrigo Reyes
Producers: Su Kim and Inti Cordera (Executive Producer)
USA

During his day job as a Spanish criminal interpreter in a small town in California, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes met a young man named Sansón, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was sentenced to life in prison without parole. With no permission to interview him, Sansón and Reyes worked together over a decade, using hundreds of letters as inspiration for recreations of Sansón’s childhood—featuring members of Sansón’s own family. The result is a vibrant portrait of a friendship navigating immigration and the depths of the criminal justice system, and pushing the boundaries of cinematic imagination to rescue a young migrant’s story from oblivion.

SIRENS

Director: Rita Baghdadi
Producer: Camilla Hall
Lebanon

Sirens intimately chronicles the lives and music of Slave to Sirens, a band made up of five young metalheads whose burgeoning fame is set against the backdrop of the Lebanese revolution. Its members wrestle with friendship, sexuality, and destruction as their music serves as a refuge to Beirut’s youth culture.

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

ANASTASIA

Director: Sarah McCarthy
Producers: Sasha Odynova and Sarah McCarthy; EPs: Sheila Nevins, George Chignell, Maria Logan, Andrew Ruhemann and Fiona Stourton
Russia

Russian activist Anastasia Shevchenko was arrested for speaking out against the government. During her imprisonment she was separated from her child who died alone. As Anastasia travels across Russia by train, she realizes that the only way she can fight for freedom is to leave her homeland forever.

ANGOLA DO YOU HEAR US? VOICES FROM A PLANTATION PRISON

Director: Cinque Northern
Producers: Catherine Gund; EPs: Liza Jessie Peterson, Norris Henderson, Susan Sawyers, Agnes Gund and Andre Gaines
USA

The story of Liza Jessie Peterson’s shutdown performance of her play The Peculiar Patriot at Angola, America’s largest prison-plantation. The documentary examines what led to the shutdown, the material that confronted a system and the impact of her visit after it was erased by prison authorities.

DEAR DANCER

Director: Marcus Lindeen
Producer: Jesper Kurlandsky
Sweden

As the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing theaters and dance companies to close down, the American choreographer Deborah Hay decides to let her dancers at the dance company Cullberg in Sweden continue their work and perform her latest piece in front of an empty theater in Stockholm. From her home in Austin, Texas, Hay writes them a letter proposing an experiment where instructions for movement will be replaced by a set of unanswerable questions. The film follows the dancers on and off the stage and captures their different reactions to the experiment.

EVA – A VISUAL ESSAY ON THE FEMALE BODY

Director and Producer: Emma Ishøy
Denmark

A visual exploration of the female body and self-awareness, gently told by a variety of women using their own bodies as canvas.

FREE TO CARE

Director: Chris Temple
Producers: Jenna Kelly and Jo Jensen
USA

A single mother with a passion for nursing, Lisa Creason wanted the freedom to pursue her dreams. When an unjust law prohibited her from doing so, she took the fight into her own hands and ended up opening doorways for thousands like her.

MALDITA. A LOVE SONG TO SARAJEVO

Directors and Producers: Amaia Remirez and Raúl de la Fuente Calle
Bosnia | Spain

God is love. His homeland is the Earth. His genre? Human. In Maldita, a love song to Sarajevo, Bozo Vreco, the most revolutionary artist of the Balcans sings to life, to overcoming obstacles, and the love story of two cities, Sarajevo and Barcelona. They both knew how to find themselves in difficult times to never say goodbye.

OPEN SHUTTERS

Director and Producer: Youjin Do
South Korea

While reporting on the rise of spy cam porn in South Korea, a crime that affects thousands each year, a journalist discovers that she too is being watched in her own home. She decides to speak out, joining a nationwide movement of women seeking protection from this frighteningly ubiquitous crime.

TESTIMONY OF ANA

Director: Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda
Producers: Janani Vijayanathan and Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda
India

Anaben Pawar is an elderly tribal woman accused of witchcraft in rural India. Through Ana’s story, we delve into a deep-rooted culture of patriarchy and examine one of the most monstrous attacks on women’s bodies in modern India: the witch-hunt.

THE DREAMLIFE OF GEORGIE STONE

Director: Maya Newell
Producers: Georgie Stone, Sophie Hyde, Matt Bate and Lisa Sherrard
Australia

Spanning nineteen years, The Dreamlife of Georgie Stone takes us into the world of Georgie, an Australian transgender teen, as she helps change laws, affirms her gender and finds her voice. Made in collaboration with Georgie herself, this is the story of a childhood under siege and a loving family who stood strong behind their daughter, offering an undeniable case for the agency of transgender children and teenagers to make their own decisions about their gender identity. As Georgie emerges into adulthood, she can finally imagine, hope and dream of her future self.

THE FAMILY STATEMENT

Directors: Grace Harper and Kate Stonehill
Producers: Steven Lake, Grace Harper and Kate Stonehill
USA

Using messages drawn from a family WhatsApp group, The Family Statement constructs a conversation between the Sackler family and those afflicted by the opioid crisis. Well-known for their philanthropic efforts, the Sackler family have been less forthright about the ways they’ve benefited from selling the opioid painkiller Oxycontin. The Family Statement brings the notoriously private family into dialogue with those living the consequences of the opioid epidemic, offering a poignant commentary on capitalism, corporate accountability, denial and pain.

WHERE THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES

Director: Rosie Baldwin
Producer: Lucy Draper
UK

The climate crisis is threatening to swallow up Bognor Regis by 2050. Historically a thriving holiday spot turned national butt-of-the-joke, the town’s residents are used to defending its reputation. But when research emerges suggesting it could end up underwater due to rising sea levels, the community grapples with what this means, both for themselves and for the place they call home. Where the Sun Always Shines is a poetic film of nostalgia, the meaning of home, and what happens when everything you know it is threatened by climate disaster.

IMPACT VIDEOS

ÁGUILAS (EAGLES)

Directors and Producers: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Maite Zubiaurre
USA

Along the scorching southern border in Arizona, only an estimated one out of every five missing migrants is ever found. Águilas is the story of one group of searchers–the Águilas del Desierto–who volunteer monthly to recover the missing.

ANTARA HUTAN, MASYARAKAT ADAT, DAN PERUSAHAAN (FOREST, INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, AND INDUSTRY)

Director: Mochammad Fikri
Producer: Nefa Firman
Indonesia

Indonesia has the largest tropical rain forest on Earth. Therefore, Indonesia has long been known as the ‘lungs’ of the world. Forests has an important role in maintaining climate balance. But for indigenous peoples in Tanah Papua and the Maluku Islands, forests are not only as ‘lungs’. For them, the forest is like a biological mother who gives birth, feed and care. It also provide food, water, woods, and medicine. However, the land is under threat from palm oil companies in Tanah Papua and the Maluku Islands, including the West Papua Province. Listen to the story of one of the indigenous leaders from Moi Kelim tribe, an indigenous peoples tribe from West Papua Province.

KICKING BALLS

Director: Vijayeta Kumar
Producers: Guneet Monga, Ashvini Yardi and Achin Jain (Sikhya Entertainment and Viniyard Films)
India

Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. That is 23 girls every minute. In three small villages in Rajasthan, a non-profit org is trying to change this. Through football. 200 teenage girls playing and training regularly. What sets them apart is, that almost all of them are child brides. The film explores their sisterhood and journey. Football has given them the confidence, ­independence and agency to stand up to the patriarchy and say no to child marriages. Many have fought to get their marriages annulled. Some have staunchly refused to go to the husband’s home. What the future holds for these little girls, nobody knows. But for now, they are in charge, confident, and love kicking balls!

MORE THAN I WANT TO REMEMBER

Director: Amy Bench
Producers: Mugeni Ornella and Amy Bench; EPs: Eloise DeJoria, Constance Dykhuizen; Producer Carolyn Merriman
DR Congo

One night at her Congo home, 14-year-old Mugeni awakes to sounds of bombs. As her family scatters to forests to save themselves, she finds herself alone. A child refugee, she sets out on a solo journey crossing continents determined to reunite with her loved ones and lift up the Banyamulenge people.

SAVING PARADISE FROM A MOUNTAIN OF TRASH

Director: Caecilia Sherina
Producer: Lilian Tan
Bali

In Bali, Indonesia, Merah Putih Hijau (MPH) empowers village communities to tackle the waste crisis one home at a time. 70 per cent of the waste in Bali’s overflowing landfills is organic and can be recycled, if sorted before dumping. For MPH’s volunteers, the mission was clear: they needed to change minds to change waste disposal habits. Now in one village alone, 13 tonnes of organic waste is recycled every month, and trips to the landfill are reduced by more than 60 per cent. With MPH’s help, village residents are returning Bali to the paradise it once was.

TEACHER OF PATIENCE

Director: Carmen Vincent
Producers: Carmen Vincent and Evan Knowles
USA

Over 20 years after Emily Felter is diagnosed with Down syndrome, paramedic (and Emily’s father) Tom develops a presentation to share her story with other first responders. As the Felters work to raise disability awareness, they come face-to-face with the struggles and joys of their daily lives.

TECHNICOLOR

Director: Scott Faris
Producers: Meg Griffiths and Christopher Shaw
USA

When Byron Sanders, a superhero-obsessed Black kid from South Dallas, seizes an opportunity to go to a predominantly White private school, his reckoning with race and class puts him on a path to becoming CEO of one of the most influential nonprofits in the city. Technicolor is part of a series of short documentaries about the roles of race, class, and upbringing in nonprofit leaders’ personal and professional lives.

TENDER

Director: Jill Magid
Producers: Paul Dallas and Dana Brandes-Simon
USA

Tender captures the dispersal of a monumental, yet nearly invisible public artwork – the circulation into the economy of 120,000 U.S pennies, engraved on their edge with the appropriated phrase “THE BODY WAS ALREADY SO FRAGILE”. Drawing a connection between the human body and the economy, artist Jill Magid distributed these pennies—equivalent to the first $1,200 stimulus check issued by the U.S. Treasury as part of The CARES Act—throughout New York City bodegas via cash-in-transit trucks. Alongside these hand-to-hand exchanges, the film explores the instability wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring who is most vulnerable—both physically and economically—to global crisis.

THE DREAM VILLAGE

Director: Mamta Singh
Producer: Pei Lin Tan
Singapore

An estimated 3,000 women and 500 children call the brothels of India’s largest red light district in Delhi, home. Non-profit organization Kat-Katha is on the ground connecting with these women and children, helping sex workers regain their dignity with livelihoods beyond the brothel. In a purpose-built space aptly named “Dream Village,” women cut the strings of societal stigma, and begin the transformative journey to brand new lives.

UNESCO WE TEACH HERE – UGANDA

Director: Tess Kanters
Producer: Wietske Wijnja
Uganda

This video shows the experiences of local Ugandan and refugee teachers in a refugee camp in Uganda through professionally filmed footage and user-generated content where the teachers film their daily experiences themselves, allowing the viewer to share their daily experiences up close. Dedicated to improving the lives of their students, the teachers manage various challenges such as long travel distances to work, language and cultural barriers and now, a COVID lockdown. Although they are resourceful, their circumstances and the quality of education would improve if training and improved working conditions are provided.

WAR AND PRIEST

Director: Karin-Bam Stowe
Producers: Karin-Bam Stowe and Hanna Adcock
Georgia

In the last two years over 25,000 young men in Georgia have become priests. But they haven’t found God; they’ve found a loophole to avoid mandatory military service. ‘War and Priest’ follows the Church of Biblical Freedom, formed by ground-breaking political party, Girchi. Armed with it’s own 7 commandments, bishop and uniform, they’re taking on the Georgian Government and patriarchy. Georgian conscription often involves 2 days training followed by menial work and is seen as a contemporary form of slavery. As tensions with Russia rise, protests break out and the brutal reality of untrained conscripts comes true.

XR (EXTENDED REALITY + INTERACTIVE)

AMA CONSTRUYENDO LA MEMORIA- LIBRO ARTE INTERACTIVO (AMA CONSTRUCTING MEMORY – INTERACTIVE ART BOOK)

Director: Emilia Yang
Producer: Emilia Mason
Nicaragua

This interactive art book uses AR components to access the stories of 100 victims of state violence in Nicaragua and their families’ demand for justice. Through QR codes you can access testimonies, maps, and 3D replicas of altars created by the victims’ relatives to honor their loved ones. This AR experience is part of a larger transmedia digital project titled “AMA y No Olvida”, trans.“Love and do not forget: Memory Museum against Impunity” created in collaboration with the families of the victims, supporting their organizing work to protect, mobilize and share the stories of the victims with a wider audience.

SEVEN GRAMS

Director: Karim Ben Khelifa
Producers: EP Chloe Jarry; For LUCID REALITIES: Chloé Jarry, EP; Alessandra Bogi, Production Manager; Adrien Pflug, Project Manager. For POV SPARK | AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY: Opeyemi Olukemi, EP Co-producers: Jeanne Marchalot for FRANCE TÉLÉVISIONS; Danielle Turkov, Amy Sheperd and, Thomas Walsh for THINK-FILM
France | USA | UK

Seven Grams is an augmented reality experience directed by journalist Karim Ben Khelifa that invites users, primarily from Generation Z, to discover the link between their smartphone and the often life-threatening conditions in which the rare earth minerals needed to make it are extracted, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

VIRTUALLY THERE

Director: Leon Oldstrong
Producer: Emma Norton
UK

Virtually There is an immersive empathy building 360° virtual reality film consisting of a series of vignettes that put viewers in the shoes of a range of individuals affected by a single knife attack.

PRODUCTION COMPANY

Field of Vision

Field of Vision is a filmmaker-driven documentary unit that commissions, creates and supports original short-form and feature-length nonfiction films and episodic series about developing and ongoing stories around the globe, as well as offers trainings in the form of pro-bono legal and digital security clinics, as well as a globally recognized mentorship program called Office Hours and an Apprenticeship program.

LBxAfrica

To tell stories that inspire, enable and amplify unique African voices worldwide while igniting positive social change.

Makmende

Our mission is to seek out and amplify the stories the world needs to hear to connect people across the globe and as such, drive positive change.

Multitude Films

Multitude Films is a queer- and women-led independent production company dedicated to telling nonfiction stories by and about historically excluded and underrepresented communities. Oriented by a representational storytelling approach, we prioritize equity on screen and behind the camera.Deeply rooted in a cultural change approach, we’re committed to telling compelling, well-crafted stories that change the way audiences understand and relate to the pressing issues of our time.

Optimist

Optimist is an independent film and social impact studio that creates documentaries that nurture optimism and inspire action.

Shine Global

Shine Global is a non-profit media company with the mission to give voice to children and their families by telling their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. We produce inspiring films and compelling content about children and their families. Through tailored distribution and outreach, we connect with our audiences in communities, classrooms, museums, and on capitol hill as part of a powerful engagement campaign to encourage social change.

The Moving Visuals

We believe in telling stories that are engaging, enlightening and that make a positive difference. Our motto is to never be boring!

The Nation of Artists

Mission Statement Driven by the motto: Ideas + Empathy = Impact, The Nation of Artists believes in the power of creative ideas to be generated by everyone, and that by blending those ideas with empathy, our content and campaigns can have direct and sustained impact while entertaining and informing. We are asset agnostic, and believe the right length of the story is doing.