Connecther Presents:


Show in Film What YOU Can do to Change the Story. Share your ideas in film with the GITW judges below! Enter your film now for a chance to win over $20K in prizes!!

Past and Present Judges Include:

  • Dr. Alaa Murabit A medical doctor, Alaa Murabit is one of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Global Advocates, a United Nations High-Level Commissioner for Health Employment and Economic Growth, a TED speaker, founder of VLW, co-founder of Omnis Instituteand a MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow. She was recently named a 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30, an Aspen Institute Spotlight Health Scholarfor her work in global health policy and a Harvard University Law 2017 "Woman Inspiring Change". Her TED Talk was named "TED Talk of the Day" and one of four "moving TED Talks to watch right now" by The New York Times. Nicknamed the "Libyan Doogie Howser" by Jon Stewart, Alaa was driven by her desire to create inclusive processes and institutions and founded VLW at the age of 21. With a strong focus on challenging societal and cultural norms and utilizing traditional and historical role models Alaa champions women’s participation in peace processes and conflict mediation. Her programs, such as the groundbreaking "Noor Campaign" have been replicated internationally. She currently serves as a trustee for The Malala Fund, International Alert, Malaria No More, Keeping Children Safe and is an advisor to ConnectHer. Named The New York Times "International Trust Women Hero 2014", Alaa is an Ashoka Fellow, Alaa is the youngest Marisa Bellisario International Humanitarian Award recipient, a Newsweek "25 under 25 to watch", a BBC News "100 Top Woman", the 2015 SAFE Global Hero and a Virgin Unite Changemaker.
    Dr. Alaa Murabit
    Founder, Every Mother Counts
    With nearly thirty years at the forefront of the fashion industry, having graced every magazine cover from Vogue to Time, Christy Turlington Burns has established a diverse career as a model, writer, entrepreneur, spokesperson, advocate, and filmmaker. Philanthropy and service have long been a part of Christy's personal and professional mission to make a lasting impact on the world. As the daughter of a Central American mother, she has supported numerous efforts to rebuild post-war El Salvador since the early 1990's. After losing her father to lung cancer in 1997, Christy’s activism evolved to preventative healthcare, including smoking prevention and cessation- in which she collaborated on several public health service campaigns and launched an award-winning website, in 2002. In 2005, Christy became an advocate for maternal health for both CARE and (RED). In 2010, she completed and debuted her documentary film, NO WOMAN, NO CRY, about the global state of maternal health, at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Mother's Day 2011. Concurrent with the debut of her documentary, Christy launched Every Mother Counts, an action and mobilization campaign designed to educate and support maternal, newborn and child health. Christy currently serves on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council and the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors, Mother’s Day Every Day and the White Ribbon Alliance. She has contributed writings to Marie Claire Magazine, Yoga Journal and Teen Vogue along with contributions to the Huffington Post, BlogHer, MomsRising, Canada’s Globe and Mail and the UK’s Evening Standard. She has guest corresponded on NBC’s Today Show, which included reporting on the status of girl’s education in Afghanistan and an interview with H.H. the Dalai Lama. Christy is also an avid yogi and merged her love of the practice and writing to author her first book, Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice (Hyperion 2002). She also founded two successful lifestyle brands; Sundãri, an Ayurvedic skincare line and nuala, a yoga inspired apparel and accessories line. She recently completed her first ING NYC Marathon, running with Team Every Mother Counts to raise awareness for maternal and child health. Christy graduated cum laude from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies where she earned a BA in Comparative Religion and Eastern Philosophy. She is currently pursuing a MPH at Columbia University’s Mailman School in New York City, where she lives with her husband - filmmaker Edward Burns - and their two children. WEBSITE LINK
    Christy Turlington Burns
  • Eloise DeJoria Texas native ELOISE DEJORIA made her film debut in Songwriter, starring Willie Nelson. Other feature credits include Weekend at Bernie's, Grand Champion, Don't Mess with the Zohan, Wall Street (Money Never Sleeps), and Wild Hearts. Her latest picture, When Angels Sing, based on Turk Pipkin’s classic Christmas story, stars Texas greats Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Marcia Ball, Kris Kristofferson, and Harry Connick, Jr. (from next-door Louisiana). The movie was directed by Tim McCanlies, and was produced by Austinites Elizabeth Avelan, Shannon Macintosh and Fred Miller. Eloise's lifestyle has been featured on 20/20 with Barbara Walters, "E" Entertainment, and in many national and international publications. She is widely recognized as the spokes model for Paul Mitchell Hair care products in television and print ads. Her number one priority and joy is raising John Anthony, her 14 year-old son with John Paul De Joria, and being mother and grandmother to their large combined family. She enjoys the outdoors, staying fit, and eating healthy.
  • Elizabeth Avellan Elizabeth Avellan (Producer) is the Co-Owner and Vice President of Troublemaker Studios and President of EYA Productions. In addition to producing family and genre films that have collectively grossed over a billion dollars, she has played a primary role in developing Austin, Texas as a thriving film community. Avellán began her producing career when she co-founded Los Hooligans Productions in 1991 with Robert Rodriguez as the two began their feature film project, "El Mariachi". Her next project was co-producing the film's 1995 sequel "esperado". She followed up with co-producing "From Dusk Till Dawn" as well as its successful home entertainment sequels. She also produced "The Faculty". In 2000, Avellan and Rodriguez founded Troublemaker Studios, their Austin, Texas based production company. Troublemaker includes a world-renowned visual effects studio as well as music and publishing arms. Troublemaker's first feature was the 2001 hit "Spy Kids". During the past decade, Avellán has produced a dozen films including "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," "Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams," "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over," "Sin City," "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D," "Grindhouse," "Shorts," "Predators," and "Machete."
    Elizabeth Avellan
  • Ian Somerhalder
    Ian Somerhalder is best known for his portrayal of Damon Salvatore on the CW hit show, The Vampire Diaries, but beyond the glamor of Hollywood, Ian represents an entire generation of dedicated activists. The Covington, Louisiana native is deeply rooted in nature and is passionate about its survival. He demonstrated a reverence for all life at a young age and spent much of his recreational time studying and interacting with his natural environment, but it wasn't until a disaster hit his home that his voice became a catalyst for change.
    When the BP Oil Spill devastated the Gulf Coast in 2010, Ian went home to help and witnessed the unprecedented devastation to the water, wildlife and human beings of his childhood. The damage caused by the spill was pivotal in igniting Ian's unwavering support for a better earth. His involvement with CNN's Disaster in the Gulf: How You Can Help telethon and his constant calls to action in interviews and on social media allowed Ian to take a strong stand for the environment which became widely admired, both by Hollywood and the environmental community. Overwhelming support came flooding in at Ian's efforts, and that support, combined with his passion for our planet, gave birth to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation.
    "By coming from a place of compassion, we're coerced into considering who and what is affected outside of ourselves from a fresh perspective," Ian says. "A component as simple as compassion has the gravity to enliven wide-scale change."
    Ian Somerhalder
  • Jean Oelwang
    CEO of Virgin Unite
    Jean is the CEO of Virgin Unite, the entrepreneurial foundation of the worldwide Virgin Group. In her previous life, Jean lived and worked on five continents helping to lead successful mobile phone start-ups in South Africa, Colombia, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and the US. Jean has long explored the overlap of the business and social sectors and has been involved in both, having worked for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife in Australia, and in numerous volunteer roles, including a stint as a VISTA volunteer where she worked with â€" and learned from - homeless teens in Chicago. In 2003 she was joint CEO of Virgin Mobile in Australia when she went to work with Richard Branson and the Virgin staff around the world to create Virgin Unite. The team works with Virgin’s two hundred businesses worldwide and other entrepreneurs to help put driving positive change at their core. Virgin Unite also works with partners to create new approaches to social and environmental issues, such as a school of entrepreneurship for young people in Johannesburg and an entrepreneurial approach to rural health transport in Kenya. Jean and Virgin Unite have also helped to incubate a number of global leadership initiatives such as the Elders, the Disease Control Hub in sub- Saharan Africa and the Carbon War Room. Jean sits on the Advisory Board of the Elders, the Board of the Carbon War Room and on the Board of the Bushbuckridge Health and Wellness Trust. WEBSITE LINK
    Jean Oelwang
  • Jeff Skoll
    Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation and Participant Media
    Jeff Skoll is a philanthropist and social entrepreneur. As the first full-time employee and first President of eBay, Skoll developed the company’s inaugural business plan and led its successful initial public offering. In 1999, Skoll began the Skoll Foundation, which drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. Skoll also created the Skoll Global Threats Fund, whose initial focus is on five global issues that, if unchecked, could bring the world to its knees: climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, and Middle East conflict. Skoll founded Participant Media in 2004 with the belief that a story well told has the power to inspire and compel social change. Participant’s 39 films to date have collectively received a total of 5 Academy Awards® and 22 nominations, and include The Help, Contagion, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Charlie Wilson's War, Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana, An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for ‘Superman’, and Food, Inc. Skoll holds a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Skoll was recently appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
    Jeff Skoll
  • Leymah Gbowee
    Nobel Laureate & Founder and President of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa
    2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker and women’s rights advocate. She is 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 (WIPSEN-A). She is also a founding member and former Liberia Coordinator of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). Gbowee’s leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace â€" which brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003 â€" is chronicled in her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, and in the documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. In addition, Gbowee is the Newsweek Daily Beast's Africa columnist. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and the PeaceJam Foundation, and she is a member of the African Women Leaders Network for Reproductive Health and Family Planning. She holds a M.A. in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, VA), and a Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa from Rhodes University in South Africa. Leymah was honored as a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is based in Monrovia, Liberia and is the mother of six.
    Leymah Gbowee
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus
    Nobel Laureate & Founder of Grameen Bank
    Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus is the father of microcredit, the father of social business, the founder of Grameen Bank, and of more than 50 other companies in Bangladesh. For his constant innovation and enterprise, the Fortune Magazine named Professor Yunus in March 2012 as "one of 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time".
    Professor Yunus was born in Bangladesh in 1940. In 1965, he received Fulbright Scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University, U.S.A., and did his Ph.D. in economics in 1969.
    Professor Yunus returned to Bangladesh in 1972 and joined the Department of Economics, University of Chittagong, as its chairman. In 1976, Professor Yunus started to experiment with providing collateral free loans to the poor. The project was called Grameen Bank Project and later, in 1983, became a full-fledged bank for providing loans to the poor, mostly women, in rural Bangladesh. Today Grameen Bank has over 8.4 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women and disburses over one and a half billion US dollars each year.
    In 2006, Professor Yunus and Grameen Bank were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Professor Muhammad Yunus is the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees from universities across 20 countries. He has received 112 awards from 26 countries including state honours from 10 countries. He is one of seven individuals to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom and the United States Congressional Gold Medal. Other notable awards include the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1984), World Food Prize (1994), International Simon Bolivar Prize (1996), Sydney Peace Prize (1998), The Prince of Austurias Award for Concord (1998) and Seoul Peace Prize (2006). WEBSITE LINK
    Muhammad Yunus
  • Nikki Reed Best known for her role as Rosalie Hale in the TWILIGHT SAGA, Nikki Reed won critical acclaim for her first feature THIRTEEN which she starred in and co-wrote. She just joined the cast of Fox’s popular TV Series SLEEPY HOLLOW in which she’ll play the role of historical figure Betsy Ross. Last year she shot Vic Armstrong’s THE SUNDAYHORSE with Ving Rhames, Ryan Merriman and William Shatner. She also finished the independent feature SCOUT opposite Ellen Burstyn and Danny Glover. She starred in three films that premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival including MURDER OF A CAT with Greg Kinnear and Blythe Danner, and IN YOUR EYES with Zoe Kazan. Other recent features include SNAP opposite Thomas Dekker and Jake Hoffman, which premiered at South by Southwest, and the comedy BALLS OUT opposite Jake Lacy and SNL’s Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett.
    Nikki has become quite the fashionista and served on People Magazine’s Stylewatch Style Council for two years. She also designed her first jewelry line Mattlin Era which was sold exclusively through and in-store at Seven For All Mankind. She is currently writing a recurring beauty and nutrition column for
    Nikki Reed
  • Pat Mitchell
    President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media
    Since assuming her current role as president and chief executive officer of The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) in March 2006, Pat Mitchell has guided the institution (founded in 1975) through an exciting rebranding effort and strengthened its public and industry programs by analyzing and interpreting the immense changes in the media landscape. Under her leadership, the Paley Center has become a major convener for media leaders and enthusiasts, continuing to offer its unrivaled collection of radio, television, and advertising content as a lens for exploring the powerful impact of media on our lives, culture, and society. Pat Mitchell was named to Newsweek's 2011 list of 150 Women Who Shake the World and in 2012 was named by the Huffington Post one of the Most Powerful Women Over 50 and featured in Fast Company’s Special Report, The League of Extraordinary Women.
    Pat Mitchell
  • Richard Curtis
    Writer, Director, Producer and Co-Founder of Red Nose Day
    Richard Curtis is a screen writer and director, responsible for films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, Mr. Bean, Love Actually, The Boat That Rocked, About Time and most recently Trash and Esio Trot. In the other half of Richard's life he is the Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of Comic Relief, which he started after visiting Ethiopia during the 1985 famine. In 1988, Comic Relief launched its Red Nose Day fundraising initiative, including a live TV broadcast for the BBC, which brought together some of the biggest celebrities of the day. Since then, Richard has produced more than 15 live nights of television and Red Nose Day has raised more than £1 billion for projects in the UK and around the world. Last year, Richard launched Red Nose Day in the United States, which included a live telecast on NBC and raised over $23 million. Red Nose Day returned to the US this year, raising over $34 million. Richard was a founding member of Make Poverty History and worked both on that campaign and on Live 8 in 2005. As part of his contribution to the campaign Richardwrote The Girl in the Café for HBO and the BBC – a television drama based around the G8 Summit, which won three Emmys. In 2012, Phillip Noyce directed Richard's TV movie Mary and Martha, a film about two mothers losing their sons to malaria. It has been shown in 50 countries around the world and used as a campaigning tool by many organizations committed to ending malaria. In 2014 Richard founded Project Everyone. Working alongside the United Nations, Project Everyone helped to launch and promote the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, a series of ambitious targets to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and combat climate change by 2030. As part of this endeavour Richardproduced the Global Citizen Festival, live from Central Park, which was broadcast in 150 territories worldwide. In January 2016 Richard was formally appointed as a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocacte alongside 16 others including Forest Whitaker, Paul Polman and Shakira.
    Richard Curtis
    Harvard Professor Rudolf Arnheim Lecturer on Filmmaking
    Robb Moss's recent film, The Same River Twice, premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit award, and played theatrically in more than eighty cities across North America. Other films have shown at the Telluride Film Festival, screened at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and at numerous venues around the world, including in Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Sydney, Ankara, and Rio de Janeiro. As a cinematographer he has shot films in Ethiopia, Hungary, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, Turkeyâ€"on such subjects as famine, genocide and the large-scale structure of the universeâ€" many of these pieces were shown on Public Television. He was on the 2004 documentary jury at the Sundance Film Festival and has thrice served as a creative advisor for the Sundance Institute documentary labs. He is the past board chair and president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers and has taught filmmaking at Harvard University for the past twenty years.
  • Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
    is an Academy and Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker.
    Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is an Academy and Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker. Her work centers on human rights and women's issues. She has worked with refugees and marginalized communities from Saudi Arabia to Syria and from Timor Leste to the Philippines. By bringing their voices to the forefront, she has often helped them bring about a critical change in their community.
    Sharmeen has made over a dozen-multi award winning films in over 10 countries around the world. In 2012 Time Magazine included her in their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2013, Sharmeen was the recipient of the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum for her work in documentary filmmaking, making her the first Pakistani to receive this honor.
    Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
  • Zainab Salbi
    Founder and Former CEO of Women for Women
    Zainab Salbi is a humanitarian, an author and a media commentator that has dedicated herself to women's rights and freedom. She is the founder and former CEO of Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to serving women survivors of wars rebuild their lives. Salbi is also the author of a national bestseller "Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam� (with Laurie Becklund); “The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope"; and her upcoming third book "If You Knew Me, You Would Care" is scheduled to be published in fall of 2012. Salbi has been identified in the top lists of most influential women by Harper's Bazaar (2010), Newsweek (2011), The Guardian (2011), Economist Intelligent Unite (2011), FastCompany (2012) among many other lists, awards and media appearances including 10 appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Salbi was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2007 and top 22 young leaders by the Clinton Global Initiative in 2010. Zainab Salbi holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.
    Zainab Salbi

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