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For the third year, the Open Mind Film Festival, sponsored by UCLA’s Friends of the Semel Institute, invited high school students across the country to produce short films telling their personal stories about mental health. Over 130 films were submitted and the following ten films have been selected to be screened at the virtual festival on Sunday, April 30th at 2pm PDT.

by Winston Verdult by
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
San Juan Capistrano, CA


Different, Not Less by Alexandra Duran
Rogers High School
Rogers, Arkansas


Fitting In by Mark Leschinsky
Bergen County Academies
Hackensack, NJ


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Frey Wood
The Ross School
East Hampton, NY


Growing Pains by Sabrinna Yeh
Troy High School
Fullerton, CA


I don’t wanna go by Max Vadset 
New Roads School
Santa Monica, CA


I Matter Because by Hailey Johnston
Redondo Union High School
Redondo Beach, CA


Journal of a Dreamer by Benjamin Hays
Crescenta Valley High School
La Crescenta, CA


PTSD - PSA by Owen Clayton Taylor 
Santa Susana High School
Simi Valley, CA


“what if it wasn’t a joke?” by Grace Sutherland
Baltimore School for the Arts
Baltimore, MD

Topics of the films include gun violence, gender roles, social media pressure, living with autism, and more. Among the panel of judges is Zach Gottlieb, founder of a worldwide GenZ community to increase emotional fitness that can be found on Instagram @talkwithzach. Finalists are vying for $2,000 in prizes, with $1000 for the top film, $600 for the second-place film and $400 for the Friends Choice Award.

The host for the festival is actor and filmmaker, Bryan Greenberg. Bryan is best known for his roles on How to Make it in America and One Tree Hill and the Netflix film, You People. Most recently Bryan wrote, directed, and starred in Junction, a film about the opioid epidemic to be released this year.


The festival features a conversation with Henry Platt, singer and mental health activist and Andrea Sonnenberg, host of the podcast series Getting Thru, about challenges to teen mental health. 

Open Mind Film Festival at UCLA Announces Finalists

A lot can be said about mental health in a five-minute film!

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