Winners of 2016 Youth Film Competition!


(And a Big Thanks for Your Support!)

We’re pleased to announce that the 2016 Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest was a great success! Young people from around Vermont submitted nearly 100 films, and we found something to enjoy in every entry. At our 2nd Youth Film Festival, at Vermont College of Fine Arts on May 7, we gave out cash awards totaling $7050 and screened 37 winners and honorable mention films. An audience of more than 100 joined us to watch the films and participate in Q&A sessions with our filmmakers.

Links to all of our submissions and winning films will be posted on the Freedom & Unity website by Thursday, May 19.

Whether you are a filmmaker, a contest sponsor or donor, or just a film lover, we’d like to thank you for your support of our competition. We especially want to thank all of the teachers who encouraged their students to submit films and mentored them in the process!

We want to let you know that winning films from our 2016 contest will be featured in other festivals and venues. It’s all part of our effort to give more visibility to young filmmakers in Vermont, and we hope you will support those efforts by watching the films and visiting the festivals. Watching films made by others is a great way to build your filmmaking skills. And going to festivals is a great way to make connections with other filmmakers and film fans.

This year, a selection of festival winners will be shown at the White River Indie Film Festival, Vermont International Film Festival, Brattleboro Film Festival, and Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

In fact, one of these festivals is happening next SundayWhite River Indie Film Festival (WRIF) in White River Junction. They have asked us to present an hour-long selection of Freedom & Unity winners. See the blurb

And please keep in touch by liking our Facebook page.

And The Winners Are…

Folklife Center Ethnographic Film Award

Breaking Binary, by Eva Rocheleau, Becca Cottrell, and Fiona Nelson

Champlain Valley Union H.S. and home school

Jamie Kanzler Experimental Film Award

Peace or Prozac by Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy


Contemporary Issues – High School

 1st Place

Young and Queer Vermont  by Alex Escaja

South Burlington High School

2nd Place

Lost Then Found: The Lost Boys of Sudan Encounter a Whole New World

by Jayme Billings, Browns River Middle School

3rd Place

Distributing Days for Girls Feminine Hygiene kits in Rwanda, Africa

by Aenea Mead, Harwood Union High School

Honorable Mention

Vermont Population Decline by Ezra Marks & Justin Holmes

Middlebury Union High School

Not The New Thing: The Future of Education in Vermont by Jacob Parker,

Ella Nagy-Benson, Alexa Widschwenter, Middlebury Union High School

Heritage or Hate: The Confederate Flag by Annina Hare

Middlebury Union High School

Lake Champlain: The Untold Story by Mason Mashtare

Northwest Technical Center

What Vermont Stands for by David McHugh

Central Vermont Career Center


Contemporary Issues – Young Adults

1st Place

The Richer Whiter State: Seeing Race in Vermont Schools 
Laurel & Alyssa Chen

2nd  Place

Shame On Me by Andrew Woodman, Green Mountain College

3rd Place  
Kelly Burke by Sophie Bodnar, CATV8


Vermont History – High School

1st Place
The Saint Albans Raid by Laurent Gagne, Bellows Free Academy

2nd Place (two winners)

Vermont Skiing HistoryTurning Points  by Sam Strohbehn, Hanover High School

Exploring the History of the Underhill Schoolhouse by Faryal Afsar,  Mount Mansfield  H.S.

3rd Place

Ticonderoga by Ethan Bray, Northwestern Technical Center

Honorable Mentions

Maple Syrup History by Trevor Riff, Oxbow High School/Wilder School

Red Roots by Zane Swift, South Burlington High School

History – Young Adults

1st Place

The Ghastliness by Chico Eastridge

2nd Place

Vermont 1918 by Shaynelle Francis


Personal Films – High School

 1st Place

Peace or Prozac  by Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy

2nd Place

God Left Me With A Voice  by Abi Murphy, Northwest Technical Center

3rd  Place (2 winners)

European Skull Mounts by Sam Scott, Middlebury Union High School/D.O.

A Letter I’ll Never Send to the Father Who Should Have Been There by Emily Williams, Hartford Area Career and Technology Center

Honorable Mention

Poem for a Friend or Stranger by Charlotte Keathley

Middlebury Union High School

A Day in the Life  by Josh LaFlower,  Spaulding High School

Project Independence by Stacy Sheilds,  Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.

Spartan Rugby by Mike Odell, Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.


Special Merit Award in Filmmaking

Vermont The Land We Live by Albert Baird and Ian Biasini

Green Mountain Technology and Career Center


Personal Films – Young Adults

 1st Place 

Stolen by Rhea Hayes & Alex Schlater, Champlain College

2nd Place 

Champlain College Climbs Smuggler’s Notch  

Nathan Gobes, Champlain College

3rd Place  

Sincerely, Vermont by James Abrams,

Rochester Institute of Technology

Honorable Mentions
The Three Year Summer by Noah Detzer

Humans of Burlington by Danielle Hazelton,  Champlain College


Art and Culture  High School

1st  Place

A Vermont Fairytale  by Cady Ray & Eva Nichols,  Poultney High School

2nd Place (2 winners)

Backwoods: A Visual Poem by Ben Shumlin, The Putney School

Vermont is Adventure by Jayvian Poitras, Central Vermont Career Center

3rd Place 

Getting Down To Business  by Cameron Fehnel & Nick Velau

Central Vermont Career Center

Honorable Mention

Maple Sugaring by Cody Lamonda,  Lamoille Union High School


Art and Culture – Young Adult

 1st  Place

Hunting & Fishing in Vermont by Martha Howe, Green Mountain College

2nd Place

Baseball in Vermont by Paul Snyder, Northwest Access TV

3rd Place

Good Sports with Jasper Goodman 

Featuring Norwich University Men’s Ice Hockey Program

by Jay Austin, WDEV Radio Vermont

Honorable Mention

Why Ski?  by India Harvey, St. Lawrence University

Extreme  Walking by Reilly Dillon, Saint Michael’s College

Judge’s Picks

Sobo Slackers  by C. Andrew Camoscio, Champlain College

Things You Wouldn’t Hear Vermonter’s Say by Grace Willean, Lamoille Union High School

What Vermont Stands for by David McHugh, Central Vermont Career Center

Lost Then Found: The Lost Boys of Sudan Encounter a Whole New World

by Jayme Billings, Browns River Middle School

Young and Queer Vermont by Alex Escaja

Kelly Burke by Sophie Bodnar, CATV8

Sugaring by Abigail Judkins, Lamoille Union High School
Poem for a Friend or Stranger by Charlotte Keathley, Middlebury Union High School

Spartan Rugby by Mike Odell, Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.

European Skull Mounts by Sam Scott Middlebury Union H.S. /D.O.

Peace or Prozac by Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy

Sincerely, Vermont   by James Abrams, Rochester Institute of Technology

Stolen by Rhea Hayes & Alex Schlater,  Champlain College

Backwoods: A Visual Poem by Ben Shumlin, The Putney School

Thanks to our sponsors and partners!

Vermont Community Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundation,

National Life of Vermont Charitable Foundation
Vermont Folklife Center, Vermont Access Network, 
World Story Exchange, Vermont PBS, Vermont Agency of Education

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