The winners of the National Coalition Against Censorship's ninth annual Youth Free Expression Project Film Contest have been chosen Winners will be flown into New York City for a screening event and an awards ceremony at the New York Film Academy on March 29. This year's theme, "Video Games in the Crosshairs," is of particular interest to those who love games because it asked contestants to make a video dealing with such issues as gaming, violence, virtual reality, and censorship. The NCAC says that this year's short film entries are "compelling explorations of the debate over video games, media violence and free speech protections."
First place goes to "Future Warfare III" by Ani Akpan of the Bronx, NY. Akpan's film uses "dazzling visual effects" to thrust players into a near-future society where gaming is approaching virtual reality and "Big Brother" decides to take stance against it. Gamers in the film take a stand against the government's attempts to suppress them.
The second place prize goes to "A Virtual Reality," by Peter Ackerman of Augusta, Maine. Ackerman interviews friends, video game enthusiasts, and a psychologist in a lively documentary exploring gaming and its effect on gamers.
Austin Guerrero of Gresham, Oregon took third place with "Initial Testing", in which a night of playing video games veers into the unknown, in the tradition of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
Finally this year's "People's Choice Award" goes to "Perception of Gamers," by Daniella Sanchez. Sanchez combines a confessional style, in-game video and footage of TV news pundits to explain the value she finds in games and her frustration at those who vilify gaming. Her video was chosen by YouTube viewers who were charged with "liking" their favorite entry.
The first, second and third place filmmakers will receive cash prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively. As First Place winner, Akpan will also receive a free one-week digital filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy and a $5000 scholarship toward any NYFA program.
You can learn more about this year's winners by visiting ncac.org. Congratulations to all of this year's winners and to those who put in an excellent effort to make films about our favorite past time and the continual efforts to censor it.