Have you ever dreamed of creating films that highlight perspectives and solutions of various problems women and girls face around the world? Have you created a short film that has the potential to make a direct impact in your community? If you answered yes to either or both of these questions, then ConnectHER’s annual Film Festival is the perfect opportunity for you to share your story. Keep reading to learn 5 reasons why you should enter ConnectHER’s Film Festival.
ConnectHER was founded to elevate the stories of women and girls, with a mission to create a world where women and girls are seen, heard, and encouraged to reach their full potential. They support women-led local projects and offer filmmaking fellowships to youth across the globe. The organization invests in women and girls via the power of storytelling — specifically through film.
The ability to be moved through film is unparalleled, which is why ConnectHER knew that if they could encourage students around the world to pick up a camera and tell stories about women’s issues, it would inspire others to take action. ConnectHER’s Film Festival is an annual global competition for young filmmakers to tell stories about global women’s issues and spark change, and it’s completely free to enter.
ConnectHER’s Film Festival features film screenings, thought-provoking panel discussions with industry trailblazers, and awards that amplify and celebrate the voices of young filmmakers throughout the globe. Categories filmmakers can submit their short films under include: global girls’ education, women and work, ending violence against women, women refugees, girls in tech, redefining beauty and more.
Past submissions have tackled topics ranging from colorism, stigmas around menstruation, and violence against women.
Bobbi Broome, a finalist in ConnectHER’s Film Festival in 2019, entered her film “Make Me Divine” in the “Defining Beauty” category.
“My film was able to make an impact. I focused on the beauty standards women face, specifically black women.” Bobbi recounted. “I got so many comments saying women feel seen and heard because of my work. It made me emotional, because one of my main goals in life is to provide representation for people. To think that people could feel inspired by something that I created was amazing.”
Films that are entered into ConnectHER’s Film Festival are seen by a wide and impressive range of people. Since 2016, the festival has received over 1,250 original films from 42 countries. ConnectHER’s Film Festival’s entries have reached more than 300,000 viewers to date. The organization also hosts an impressive panel of renowned judges every year.
Past judges include Dr. Alaa Murabit, one of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Global Advocates and a United Nations High-Level Commissioner for health, employment, and economic growth. Ian Somerhalder, known for his role in Vampire Diaries, has also sat on the judges panel. Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee actively champions women’s rights, and is the founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative, and co-founder and executive director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa.
Winning in your category of the Film Festival comes with more than just recognition — winners receive scholarship money.
ConnectHER has awarded more than $175,000 in scholarships over the last few years. Previous winners have leveraged their scholarship money to further support shedding light on women’s issues, progressing their own education, and continue pursuing filmmaking.
Anahita Seraji, a biology major from Vancouver, British Columbia, entered the Film Festival in 2021 and won the Judges’ 1st Choice Runner’s Up Award for her film, “Wash Your Hands of My Blood.”
Anahita shared her scholarship award with her film team, and is using her portion to fund her own biology research and studies. “ConnectHER’s scholarship award allowed me to expand my horizons, by getting out of the classroom and giving me the opportunity to go into a rural area and help environmentalists.” Anahita said.
Emerging filmmakers have walked out of ConnectHER’s Film Festival with newfound confidence.
Bobbi is currently pursuing her MFA in film and television production at the University of Southern California. “ConnectHER’s Film Festival really gave me the confidence to continue pursuing film, and now I'm in film School. If it wasn’t for this festival, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to spread my wings.” Bobbi said.
Almost an entire year after winning the Judges’ 1st Choice Runner’s Up Award, Anahita also reflected on the impact she’s been able to create. “My feelings of doubt really did transform into empowerment, and it really encouraged me to do more.” Anahita noted. “I was able to build a community. People have seen my passion and dedication to this issue and they want me on their team! It’s allowed me to take filmmaking seriously.”
Since her award-winning film made its debut at ConnectHer’s Film Festival in 2021, Anahita has been hired as a film contractor on campus at the University of British Columbia, and looks forward to collaborating with fellow filmmakers and creating more projects in the future. She encourages anyone who has an impactful story with a mission to elevate women’s voices to enter the Film Festival.