Bringing a family-first commitment to life with the Institute for Family

October 26, 2020

At the core of the Institute for Family is the notion that family is unconditional love—a safe space to share dreams, a means to uplift each other, a support system we all need and deserve. But families face difficult circumstances that can threaten their unique space of stability, happiness, and well-being. And when the next step is to find a helping hand, parents can often feel unseen and unnoticed.

That’s why the Institute for Family is igniting a movement for family well-being by providing a platform that listens and shares the laughter, tears, and emotions that are a part of all families—so everyone can see just how important it is that we support, build, and preserve what transforms each and every one of us. 

The challenge

The first step to bring their commitment to life was to host an AudPop film challenge that asked one important question: What’s your family story? From challenges to successes, the Institute for Family looked for stories that inspire, engage, educate, or empower others to make a difference for families—in order to create a docu-series that educates the public on ways we can strengthen families and communities so children can stay and thrive in their own homes.

The judges

To start, the Institute for Family selected a panel of judges for their film challenge that consisted of a variety of foster care system advocates:

  • Sean Anders: A Hollywood writer and director (“Instant Family,” “Daddy’s Home,” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” just to name a few) who adopted three siblings from the foster care system.
  • Cordelia Cranshaw: A foster care system advocate and motivational speaker, who used her resilience to defy the odds of growing up in the foster care system to become the founder and CEO of Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) and the former Miss District of Columbia. 
  • Angela Tucker: A transracial adoptee and renowned thought leader, Tucker is the subject of the documentary “Closure,” the founder of The Adopted Life blog, and the Director of Post-Adoption Services at Amara
  • Jimmy Wayne: An award-winning country music artist (known for “Paper Angels” and “Do You Believe Me Know”), Wayne is also a three-time New York Times best-selling author for his story about growing up homeless and in foster care before his big music break.

The results

With 423,000 campaign impressions, what came after was nothing short of inspirational. 21 films were submitted for the judges to evaluate based on creativity, technical merit, fresh and diverse perspectives, and adherence to the assignment. Here’s what they selected:



Filmmaker: Ligia Lotus

Prize: $5,000

“I’m so happy to be part of Family Stories Film Challenge and also all the opportunities AudPop provides for all filmmakers out there, and I still can’t believe I’ve got the first place,” says Lotus. “‘BREATHE’ is actually a confession about life at home, as a mom and a creator, during a pandemic. My family helped me make it on time for the festival which makes it even cooler. It’s been a pleasure to share ‘BREATHE’ through AudPop and see that the movie spoke to so many people, and this makes me feel I’m not alone in this crazy roller coaster that has been our days lately.”


Film:The American Dream

Filmmaker: Janetzy Cruz

Prize: $2,000

Cruz captures her father, a Mexican immigrant, as he reflects about how he fought and decided to come to the United States for a better life. 

Honorable mention

Film: Connection

Filmmaker: Christina Igaraividez

Prize: $1,000

“This was a great way to bond with my family and have them support my passion,” says Igaraividez. “I love that I have this piece of work forever that focuses on my relationship with my mom and grandma.”

Honorable mention

Film: The Empty Nest” 

Filmmaker: Robin Glass

Prize: $1,000

“I once read that humans have evolved a very sensitive mechanism to detect ‘fake,’” says Glass. “Unless you’re working with professional actors, trying to capture on film a ‘real’ moment takes some work, and some time, and a few SD cards. But I think above all, it takes genuine conversation, not questions and answers. It takes the ability to probe your non-actors’ heart until it happens—like magic: genuine emotion.”

Honorable mention

Film: Fostering Family and Family

Filmmaker: Alex Herring

Prize: $1,000

“I try to be very honest, raw and sincere in my storytelling wherever possible because I find that’s what makes your message powerful and relatable to others,” says Herring. “I am grateful to have made it into the list of finalists for the challenge!”

Monique Efta

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