Freedom & Unity Winners Featured on Vermont PBS!

Freedom & Unity winners of 2016’s Youth Film Contest will be featured on Vermont PBS!

There will be interviews with some of the filmmakers, those will air as part of the programs as well! Below are the program details:


HIGH SCHOOL: 10/4/2016, 7:00 PM

First Place – Personal Films, Winner – Jamie Kanzler Experimental Film

Peace or Prozac | Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy

First Place – Contemporary Issues

Young & Queer Vermont | Alex Escaja, South Burlington High School

First Place – Vermont History

St. Albans Raid | Laurent Gagne, Bellows Free Academy

Second Place – Personal Films

God Left Me with a Voice | Abi Murphy, Northwest Technical Center

First Place – Art & Culture

Vermont Fairy Tale | Cady Ray & Eva Nichols, Poultry High School

Second Place – Art & Culture

Backwoods | Ben Shumlin, Putney School

Judges pick – Vermont PBS

What Vermont Stands For | David McHugh, Central VT Career Center

YOUNG ADULT: 10/11/2016, 7:00 PM

First Place – Contemporary Issues

The Richer, Whiter State | Laurel & Alyssa Chen, Burlington

Second Place – Personal Films

Champlain College Ice Climbing | Nathan Gobes, Champlain College

First Place – Personal Films

Stolen | Rhea Hayes & Alex Schlater, Champlain College

First Place – Art & Culture

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

Both of these will premiere on these days/times on the Vermont PBS Main Channel and the Plus Channel. PBS will be rebroadcasting these following those premieres, and they will also be available streaming 24 hours after they premiere. (Once PBS has a web page up for a program it will have re-broadcast dates as well as the streaming content when its available.)




Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest!

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 1.29.57 PM

A selection of films for White River Indie Film Festival!

Sunday, May 15th 2pm-3pm

Barette Center for the Arts

76 Gates Street, White River Junction, Vermont

The Three Year Summer, Noah Detzer, 3:31 min

A letter I’ll never send to the father who should have been there

Emily Williams, 10:14 min.

History of Maple Syrup, Trevor Riff, 2 min

The Ghastliness, Chico Eastridge, 15 min

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

Jayme Billings, 9:59

Hunting and Fishing in Vermont, by Martha Howe, 4:58 min

Peace or Prozac , Leah Kaliski, 2.5min

Q&A with filmmakers after the program!

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

You’re Invited to the 2016 Freedom & Unity Youth Film Festival!

This year, students from across Vermont submitted nearly 100 films to the Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest. Please join us at Vermont College of Fine Arts on Saturday, May 7, 2016 to celebrate their accomplishments and watch this year’s winning films at our 2016 Youth Film Festival.

At the festival, our judges will announce the winners and give out awards, including category prizes, The Vermont Folklife Center Ethnographic Film Award, and the Jamie Kanzler Award for Experimental Film. You’ll get to view the winning films and talk to their creators. And you’ll meet young filmmakers, teachers, and filmmaking mentors from around the state.

Here at Freedom & Unity, all of us are working hard to support Vermont’s future filmmakers. We hope you’ll support them too, by attending this year’s festival.


Nora Jacobson, Gary Miller, Nat Winthrop, Meghan O’Rourke and all of the Freedom & Unity team


The Details

Freedom & Unity Vermont Youth Film Festival

Date/Time: May 7, 2016, 9 am to 5 pm

Location: Vermont College of Fine Arts

Noble Hall • 306 College Avenue • Montpelier, VT 05602

Pizza and soft drinks will be provided.

Please email us at to let us know how many of your group will attend.

Freedom & Unity Film Competition Deadline Extended!


We know you’re working hard to finish your entries to our 2016 Youth Film Contest. We want to give you the best chance possible to make great films—and to win some of our nearly $4000 in cash prizes. So we are extending the deadline for this year’s competition to give you an extra weekend to work!!

Here’s our new deadline: Send in your entries by 11:59 PM on April 18, 2016!

Remember, all entrants should check contest rules and submission guidelines before sending in their films. Be sure to look at the tips from our judges. And if you think you need a little more time, send an email to We may be able to work out an extension.

We Can’t Wait to See Your Films!

Here at Freedom & Unity, we’re lining up judges and getting ready to view student films from all across Vermont. We can’t wait to see the films from your school or community! We have over $3700 in cash prizes to give away! And winners will have their films screened at our Film Festival on May 7, on VT PBS and Vermont Access Network, and at a number of other Vermont film festivals!

But if you are entering our 2016 Youth Film Contest, you have less than two weeks to submit your entries!

In order to considered for this award (and for other awards) films must be submitted to our contest by 11:59 PM on April 16, 2016. All entrants should check contest rules and submission guidelines before sending in their films.

Vermont Folklife Center Announces $500 Youth Video Prize!

The Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest is happy to announce a new prize for our 2016 Student Film Festival: The Vermont Folklife Center Ethnographic Film Award.

The award, sponsored by the Folklife Center, will be given to a youth film that explores themes of culture and how we understand it. This includes films that strive to represent an experience from the point of view of the people to whom that experience belongs. Films that are collaboratively produced, autobiographical and self-reflective documentaries, observational projects, and films in which filmmaker and subject share active participation in the film production process will also be considered for the award.

In order to considered for this award (and for other awards) films must be submitted to our competition by 11:59 PM on April 16, 2016. All entrants should check contest rules and submission guidelines before sending in their films.

Submission Deadline: April 16th!

First Prizes of $500 for Theme Category Winners!!

Send in Your Entry by April 16, 2016!

The submission deadline for the Freedom & Unity Youth Film Contest is less than a month away! All films must be submitted by 11:59 PM on April 16, 2016. All entrants should check contest rules and submission guidelines before sending in their films. It’s best to send in your entries a few days early in case any processing issues come up. Best of luck to all our filmmakers! Our judges look forward to seeing your films.

First Place Winners Receive $500 Prizes!!

Freedom & Unity is pleased to announce that first place winners in each of our four theme categories will receive a $500 cash prize. The three categories for the 2016 contest are Vermont History & Contemporary Issues, Personal Stories, and Arts & Culture. To be eligible for the $500 prize, entrants must submit films by April 16, 2016.