Official Rules and Guidelines

Official Rules and Guidelines

Deadlines & Fees

Entry Fee: $20

Please email us if you would like to request a fee waiver:


The Challenge will accept submissions and award cash on a rolling basis.  The winning videos will be featured in an online livecast in the Fall of 2020.

Online submission portal is open now.

First Deadline: January 31, 2020

Second Deadline: April 17, 2020

Final Deadline: June 29, 2020

Your submissions will be available on our website for all participants as well as any visitors. As part of our effort to broaden the impact of your submission, we will post the films on other websites such as You Tube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to get your message out.

The sooner you submit, the sooner you will be encouraging civic discussion and engagement on the issue that is of significant concern to you!

All submissions must:

  1. Be made by people ages 15 to 25 years of age.
  2. Be under 8 minutes in length (including titles and credits) for the documentaries
  3. Be under 2 minutes for social media videos.
  4. Be original video shot by you and/or your group. If visual materials are used that have not been created by you, you need to obtain written permission and credit the author.
  5. Include a call to action promoting youth voting.
  6. Use original music or graphic material; or properly license copyrighted materials.
  7. Be in English or subtitled in English.
  8. Provide a three-line synopsis that will be used in the Challenge program
  9. Provide a still from your film that will draw viewers.
  10. Finalists will be asked to provide a three-minute bio on themselves and why they selected their specific issue.

Media submission:

Please use YouTube or Vimeo link to your video.


After each deadline January 31, April 17, and June 29, a jury of young filmmakers will select the 5 best documentaries and 5 best social media works to go on to the final selection for the September screening and award ceremony.

The top film in each category will receive a $1,000 award for documentary and $500 for the social media work.

The final Democracy 2020 Youth Film Challenge competition will gather all the films selected from the three deadlines and will be judged by a jury of young men and women together with distinguished media professionals. Selected films will be presented in an Awards Ceremony in September 2020.

Documentary Category

  • First Prize: $5,000
  • Second Prize: $2,000
  • People’s Choice Award: $1,000

Social Media Category

  • First Prize: $2,500
  • Second Prize: $1,000
  • People’s Choice Award: $500

All films submitted will be judged for creativity, originality, production value, quality of interviews and whether they promote empathy and civil dialogue.  The Challenge welcomes all submissions regardless of gender, race, ethnic background and multi-abled.

Tool box:

 Participants will have access to free webinars presenting the best practices in media production, how to structure a story and the most effective ways to conduct interviews:

  • Introduction to Video Production
  • Researching Issues and Stories
  • Conducting Interviews
  • Pre-Production and Production
  • Making Selects and Assembling your Film
  • Final Cut Editing

Submit Your Film

Our goal is for participants to generate well researched, empathetic and compelling videos that rise above entrenched partisanship. Participants in the Youth Film Challenge are encouraged to increase their awareness of social issues and to understand how their voice and vote can change society.

Two formats for entry:

  • Short Documentaries under 8 minutes in length
  • Social Media Works under 2 minutes in length

The best videos will be selected by a youth jury along with a panel including some of the most distinguished journalists and civic leaders in the country. The videos will be judged on the basis of creativity, content and balance and must promote empathy, civil dialogue and a call to vote.

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