Announcing the White House Student Film Festival 2016 Finalists : “The World I Want to Live in”

This summer, we invited students from all across the country to submit their digital video vision for the third annual White House Student Film Festival, themed “The World I Want To Live In.” We wanted today’s youth to tell us what they hoped the future would hold for us — Sci-fi lasers? Flying cars? Yourself as President? — in the form of a short film.

We received hundreds of nominations — documentaries, animations, and live action films alike — depicting all kinds of imagined worlds. Strikingly, few submissions envisioned a technology-driven, science-fiction-esque future. Rather, it seems that this generation of youth are inspired by something much more simple: the dream of a more tolerant, more fair, more environmentally-friendly world. One that is widely inclusive, and contains rich opportunities of access for all.

That’s definitely the kind of world we’d want to live in.

Check out a selection of our 15 finalists, which will be screening as part of our South by South Lawn Festival.

Lego: “Education For Her”

Directed by William Thomason, aged 17

Lego: Education for Her is a stop motion film written and directed by William Thomason, a senior at North Atlanta High School in Georgia. The film includes the voices of William, his 8th grade sister Grace, and the First Lady herself. It was created using over 2,500 individual images taken with his Canon T3i DSLR camera and brought to life using Dragonframe animation software along with Final Cut Pro.”

Takashi Tanemori — The World I Want to Live In

Directed by Jason Cordis, aged 18

“Takashi Tanemori was eight years old when he lost his parents and siblings in the Hiroshima bombing. He immigrated to America at the age of 18, and after years of suffering from prejudice, poor health, and a burning desire for revenge, he found his purpose in life as leader of the Silkworm Peace Institute. In 2012, Mr. Tanemori had to check into the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. The nurse who took care of him was none other than my mom, who quickly befriended him after reading his book Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness. Ever since then, Mr. Tanemori has become a welcome member of my household and a huge influence on my life. This film was inspired by talks after family dinners when Mr. Tanemori would share his childhood memories, his spiritual beliefs, and most importantly, his hopes for the future. I hope his words have the same effect on you as they’ve had on me.”

The World I Want To Live In

Directed by Breanne Pitt, aged 13, Kayleigh Hendy, aged 13, Roxanne Edel, aged 13, Lydia Hagen, aged 12, and Sierra Wilson aged 12

“In the foothills of northwestern Connecticut lies a small, public, middle/high school surrounded by working farms, rolling hills, and state forests. Shepaug Valley School contains approximately 400 students in both the middle and high school combined, which averages out to approximately 50 students per grade. Our film, The World I want to Live In, was inspired by our own, small, tight-knit community — a place where traffic is sparse (except the occasional tractor), community members work together to maintain the area’s natural beauty, and all students are safe and granted a high-quality education. Sierra Wilson, Roxanne Edel, Lydia Hagen, Kayleigh Hendy, Mary Carew-Miller, Jaxen Griggs and Eliza Slastushinskaya spent several Tuesday’s after school in Mrs. Pitt’s middle school video club writing, filming and editing a positive vision of the future. Our film tackles world issues like crime, pollution, politics and obesity in a satirical manner, using humor, exaggeration and sarcasm to draw attention to these issues without being offensive or hurtful. In this way, we were able to maintain a light-hearted and optimistic vision of the future — a world where all students are privy to an exceptional education, people are cognizant of environmental and personal health, politicians can work together to produce favorable policies, and crime is tackled in new and inventive ways. While our vision may be a hyper-glamorized version of the future, why not reach for the stars? As Colin Powell once said, ‘perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.’”

A World That Exists

Directed by Sophia Tomlinson, aged 11, and Sofia Derk, aged 10 (Gators Movie Making Club)

“We decided to participate because we wanted to make a video that brought awareness to bullying, social interaction, the negative effects of technology in schools, and the rising issue of gender bias. The message of this video is that any person, at any age, can make a difference wherever they are and that a small action might not make everything better but it can lead to bigger changes in the future.”

Through My Eyes

Directed by Nurnashrah Hana Mohd Reza, aged 15, and Anissa Safiyya Mohd Reza, aged 12

“The purpose of my film is to bring humanity to a very cotentious topic as of late: Islam. While there has been many negative connotations and perceptions of Muslims in the media, I believe people fail to realize that — despite our fundamental differences — we are still regular human beings with very similar wants, needs, dreams, and aspirations. I believe now is the time to try and open the dialogue and create a more inclusive and understanding awareness of Islam and Muslims in general. I strongly believe that we can take steps towards improving the perception of Muslims and diminish the negative stereotypes about us and I hope that my film is seen as something that is encouraging and empowering for not only women — but men, too.”

Time for Change

Directed by Leanne Elizabeth Caldejon, aged 18, Angel Marie Velasquez, aged 18, and Jevonne JaLaarl Davis, aged 17

A roundtable meeting between people from across different centuries reveals to each participant a surprising thing about their dreams for the world — they must be the change they want to see the world.

A Walk

Directed by Sara Hills, Johnathan James Abrolat, aged 17, Ira Kailen Clark, aged 18, and Christian Aaron Settles, aged 17

“The filmmakers aimed to capture the essence of their environment — the beauty and wonder of Los Angeles and the serenity of the beaches in California — then juxtapose those images with what the students viewed as current and future concerns for an environment they love, in order to encourage audiences to protect the world they want to live in. Our world.”

The World I Want to Live In

Directed by Xavier James White, aged 11, and Miguel Padilla Quicho, aged 16

“First of all, I would like to shout out my high school Bishop Amat, my Dawg Pound Film Squad — Austin, Richie, Oscar — and my family. I have been a filmmaker since I was five years old and it is surreal to be a finalist in the White House Student Film Festival. This film stars the very talented Xavier White who performed my vision and speech flawlessly. The story is distinct from others because it’s about a kid’s dream with a schedule that emphasizes on family togetherness. Sure, it is far-fetched — but it is a dream of this character that I created. My cousin Ruthie helped me with the script and my dad assisted me in making this film happen by producing it.”

A World Without Racism

Directed by Mackie Mallison, aged 16, Finnigan Hawley-Blue, aged 17, Khiarica Rasheed, aged 17, and Dylan Palmer, aged 18

“In the 2015–16 school year, Grant High School students in Portland, Oregon spoke out against racism. Following a racist incident on the boys soccer team, now senior Dylan Palmer decided to stand up and say something. Grant has seen a number of racially charged events, and racism is alive and well there, as well as in every institution across the nation. But this one instance sparked a school wide discussion about race. Junior Mackie Mallison and senior Finnigan Hawley-Blue joined the newly formed Student Equity Team at Grant and created a film that was played in every classroom at the school as openers for the conversations about race. With the help of senior Khiarica Rasheed, who recited a slam poem she wrote, they produced a film showing student emotion, the impact of racism and the presence of whiteness on our everyday lives. Now, these four students — along with a passionate team back in Portland — hope that their film, A World Without Racism, and the work they are doing will create a pathway for change at both their school and across the country.”


Directed by Jane Brandt, aged 16

Changes is about coming out. It’s a very important subject to me and I wanted to show the ideal coming out scenario. A place where everyone is accepted — that’s the world I want to live in.” — Jane Brandt

A World Filled With LOVE

Directed by Ezra Anteneh, aged 9, Mateos Anteneh, aged 6, Noelle Anteneh, aged 5, and Asher Anteneh, aged 5

“Families are filled with diversity, and the four siblings of the Anteneh family know this well. The kind ten-year-old, Ezra, the inquisitive nine-year-old, Mateos, the artistic six-year-old, Noelle, and the fun five-year-old, Asher, stay busy with sports, hobbies, writing, inventions, and occasionally driving their parents crazy. As children of immigrants from Ethiopia, celebrating and learning about the world is always exciting. Making pizzas at the family pizzeria is fun, too! But what is most fulfilling for this homeschooled brood is giving back and serving their community, here and across the ocean. Even at their young age, Ezra, Mateos, Noelle and Asher are wholeheartedly committed, through love, to leaving this world a little better than when they found it.”

The Power of a Pen

Directed by Jeeyoon Lee, aged 18

“I am passionate about storytelling, inspiration, and raising awareness through the medium of film. Along with filmmaking, my interests include coding, graphic design, and innovating film-related technologies. Having grown up in a fortunate environment where learning has always been allowed to run free, I dream of a world where every person will have access to education. I dedicate my short film to each girl around the world who is striving to receive an education and to those who champion her cause.”

The World I Want to Live In

Directed by Quinn Holmes, aged 18 and Dontaneek Glascoe, aged 17

“On the 4th of July, during the summer of 2016, an innocent man by the name of Delrawn Smalls was brutally shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn, New York. Days after the shooting I flew into New York City and, upon my arrival, I found out about the news of the killing. Such violent acts deeply sadden me and fuel my distaste for any notion of racism. Determined to do my part in bringing about awareness, I set out with a camera and a backpack and roamed the streets of the city. On two separate occasions, as the sun set and the men of Wall Street were going home, I joined a protest. It was a frightening yet thrilling experience. Our peaceful protests were viewed as a call for war, with cops arresting folks left and right. But no matter what, we took the streets, and our chants, echoing the need for change, rang high. I attended other events hosted by the communities of several boroughs, and to this day I have yet to see such love and support expressed in one gathering. After working on the film for days, I found myself in the projects of the Lower East Side. I was talking to a man named Frank. He likes to be called “Blades.” People call him this because he is known as an amazing rollerblader in the city. Frank shed light on racism in the United States and gave advice to the future generations of our country. With that interview, my film was complete.”


Doors — Directed by Sophie Huang

Wishing For A Different Present — Directed by Stephanie Dong, Jessie May Chen, Alan Israel Ruiz Cantu

Road To Unity — Directed by Fez Zafar

The World I Want To Live In: Letters & Numbers — Directed by Tony Evans, Dnate McFallo, RangDzin-Elsa Haga-McFallo

Remember The Past, Transform The Future — Directed by Layne Lindroth, Jan Gierlach, Kimberly Kazanowski

Breaking The Glass Ceiling — Directed by Ivy Chan

The Transition — Directed by Qingyu Meng, Brian Meng

Tribe Of One — Directed by Reigna Wren

Don’t Tell Me — Directed by Nayeli Ramirez, Angela Ramirez, Leah Young, Ti’Asia Boner

Frere — Directed by Jeremiah Bolder, Ellary Cooper, Xander Wynn

Keona’s Story — Directed by Marco Towain Clark

A Girl’s Right to Education —Directed by Nathalie Cabrera Hernandez, Nicoles Anyelis Rosario Reynoso, Justin Leo Rivera, Matthew Samuel Lennox Smart, Faeyah Muhammad, Samia Uddin

A Dad’s Letter — Directed by Catherine McCord

A Vision — Directed by Isaiah Bernard Ferguson

The views and opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the White House and the White House does not endorse all content herein. Nothing in this post shall constitute an endorsement of any statements, products, companies, or organizations.

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