Audience Awards Announces the Race to Justice Winners

June 20, 2018

In May 2018, Audience Awards and April Reign, the creator of #OscarsSoWhite, announced Race to Justice, a film challenge seeking short films that portray an honest and instructive conversation about race. Today we announce the winners.

Race to Justice came to fruition with the idea that important issues must be discussed, not ignored or swept under the rug. This is no less true regarding the issue of race. Audience Awards and April Reign acknowledge that filmmakers have a gift for reaching people in ways others do not and created a film challenge to empower the many voices of America.

The 1st annual Race to Justice received exceptional films made with high-level technical merit, creativity, and craftsmanship. The short films were diverse with complex storytelling. Narrowing down the films to the top finalists was very challenging for the jury.  After much deliberation, the jury accepted 10 finalists films.

The ten finalists in this year’s Race to Justice are: Black(f)ish by Carla Lee; Still I Rise by Gabriel Diamond; The Setup by Patrick Higgins; Why Not Now John Henry by Ben Proudfoot; Behind the Bars by Max Rothman; W. Kamau Bell Doesn’t Want to Fit In by Jackie Lay; Honest in Thought and Deed by Matthew Palmer; This is America by William Anderson; Skull and Bone by Victoria Rivera; Around the Dinner Table by Cassandra Nicholson. 

Race to Justice Best film, Jury Pick: Still I Rise by Gabriel Diamond, is a visual and musical interpretation of American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou’s electrifying poem “Still I Rise.” Diamond wins a Canon C100 w/24-105 camera kit.

Race to Justice Best Film, Audience Choice: This is America by William Anderson, follows John whose once naive perspective on the struggles in today’s world for African-Americans transforms after an eye-opening wake-up call that shifts his perspective forever. Anderson wins a FilmStro soundtrack license for movies with up to a $1M budget worth $2,000.

Additional winners include:

Best Film, Honorable Mention, Jury Choice: Honest in Thought and Deed by Matthew Palmer

Best Film, Honorable Mention, Audience Choice: Black(F)ish by Carla Lee

Spirit Award: Around the Dinner Table by Cassandra Nicholson*

Best in Cinematography: Skull and Bone by Victoria Rivera

Best in Sound:  Behind the Bars by Max Rothman

Best in Editing: Why Not Now John Henry by Ben Proudfoot

Best Score: Skull and Bone by Victoria Rivera

*about the Spirit Award: A special award for the film the jury found to have best captured the essence (the spirit) of Race to Justice

The winners were decided on by the global audience and April Reign’s carefully constructed jury panelists made up of activists, artists, and celebrities, many of whom have devoted their life’s work to standing up for equality and educating the public on race and representation. The jury panel was included:

April Reign, creator of the internationally viral hashtags #OscarsSoWhite and #WOCAffirmation and the co-creator of #NoConfederate, April Reign challenges the lack of representation of marginalized communities in Hollywood and beyond;

Franklin Leonard, the host of the Black List Table Reads podcast and founder of the Black List, the yearly publication highlighting Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays;

Roy Wood Jr., comedian currently working as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. His thought-provoking comedy crosses cultural lines and has entertained millions nationwide by stage, radio and television;

Lauren Atkins, creator and founder of  NYC Web Fest, a festival devoted to bringing together a multifaceted diverse group of people from around the world to showcase the best of the web;

Effie T. Brown, film and television producer, known for the acclaimed independent feature Dear White People and FOX’s highly anticipated network series “Star,” created by Lee Daniels;

Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and media entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Define American, the nation’s leading non-profit media advocacy organization that uses storytelling to humanize the conversation around immigration, citizenship, and identity in a changing America. He also founded #EmergingUS, a production company that focuses on race, immigration, and the emerging American identity;

Shaun Lau, host on the film and social issues podcast No, Totally! and writes about Asian-American representation in media and entertainment. He’s been interviewed on issues of linguistics, representation, and race for publications including The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, Splinter, USA Today, The New Statesman, and The Village Voice;

Debbie Vandermeulen, film producer who travels the globe talking about financing, development, and marketing. Debbie’s projects have earned recognition at renowned festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto.

ABOUT AUDIENCE AWARDS: Audience Awards provides filmmakers with the opportunity to change the world through stories, win prizes and build an audience. Films are juried by industry professionals and the global audience. We are committed to providing a stage for diverse, emerging talent and their work. Our platform is dedicated to celebrating the power of storytelling and building an audience. Created by filmmakers, for filmmakers, Audience Awards offers an invaluable platform for exposure. Our filmmakers don’t just gain exposure – like press and social media engagement – but also opportunities to accelerate their careers. Learn More:

ABOUT AUDIENCE AWARDS FILM FESTIVAL: AudFest is the capstone of 365 days full of stellar filmmaking and an opportunity for us to provide opportunity and exposure to our filmmaker family. We play with cameras, gear, learn from industry experts, get mentored by industry execs. We honor pioneer filmmakers and screen the top short films from this year. Learn more here:


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