JANUARY 10, 2023, LOS ANGELES, CALIF. —To meet the new “lightworkers” of our generation, look no further than this year’s SIMA 2023 shortlist.

There’s a term dominating the health, wellness and impact space used to describe a person driven and motivated to do work that elevates people to a higher level of consciousness. This term is “lightworker”. While usually reserved for the gurus, healers and select social do-gooders; what the SIMA 2023 finalists show us is that perhaps “lightworker” shouldn’t be solely assigned to your neighborhood yoga teacher; but should extend to the small group of impact filmmakers and creators harnessing the light—literally and figuratively—to expose its depth.

Light by definition is the very essence of its contrast. The challenges our world faces will not be resolved by simply elevating higher consciousness to all that is light; they will find their resolution by our society radically reclaiming sovereignty over our collective shadows. What this year’s SIMA 2023 finalists capture is just that; the illumination of a world cycling through a seemingly endless and chaotic rhapsody of light and dark as it exposes its shadows to dismantle all that no longer serves its peace.

From decolonization to destigmatization; from witchcraft to war torn; from Russia to Myanmar; this year’s SIMA finalists are unparalleled in their ability to delicately dance between light and dark and expertly expose the seductive forces at play coercing society to turn a blind eye.

“Sharing the work of courageous filmmakers and storytellers with lived experience from the front lines of today’s global issues is ever more vital in a world where deep fakes and algorithms fuel the echo chambers of our social feeds and enable discrimination, bias and political doctrine to remain dangerously unchallenged. Immunity to doctrine might just be the most important armor we can build up in ourselves and future generations, and the best vehicle we have to subvert and dismantle it is the very same vehicle that reinforces it: film and media. At SIMA, we call “authentic narratives’ the antidote to doctrine. The authentic storytelling we champion illuminates the dignity and resilience of people from all walks of life, and stands out in its transparency, integrity and creativity to take audiences on a journey that becomes their own.”

— Daniela Kon Lieberberg, Founder & CEO

For over a decade, the finalists that pass through SIMA have been exposing the injustices happening across our world, inviting audiences to remove their blindfolds and steady their gaze. Storytelling has always been an effective vehicle for social transformation and this year’s SIMA 2023 finalists have set the new standard for what that responsibility means: to also be a lightworker. To not merely elevate consciousness, but to liberate it. To take sovereignty over our shadow and to rise up against the oppressive and systemic darkness that holds our society hostage from living in its light.

The SIMA 2023 Finalists are now eligible for entry into SIMA’s global community screening series, SIMA X, and online education platform, SIMA Academy, which reaches over 86,500 students around the globe. Now moving on to the final round of judging, they will compete for awards and cash prizes of up to $1,000 per category. Winners will be announced on February 9, 2023.


SIMA’s Sponsors are committed to the collaborative effort of honoring the most thought-provoking documentary films of our time. The 11th Annual SIMA Awards are powered by The Foundation for Systemic Change (FSC), Milatido, The Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), The International Documentary Association (IDA), Double Exposure, WITNESS, Firelight Media, and NONOT


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