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Open Mind Film Festival for High School Students

The host for the festival is Bryan Greenberg, an actor and filmmaker, best known for his roles on How to Make it in America 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 also 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.

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


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 Talk with Zach, a worldwide GenZ community to increase emotional fitness. Finalists are vying for $2,000 in prizes, with $1000 for the top film, $600 for second place, and $400 for the Friends Choice Award.

2022 Film Festival Finalists

2022 Open Mind Film Festival

2021 Film Festival Finalists

Open Mind Film Festival

The annual Open Mind Film Festival is a creative forum for teenagers to speak out about the mental health crisis impacting many of our youth. High school students throughout the United States are invited to submit short films highlighting their experiences and concerns surrounding this important topic. Submissions are accepted beginning in the fall of each year and finalist films are screened at the festival held the following spring.


Films are judged by a panel consisting of film industry creatives and executives, high school students, medical professionals, and academics. Winners are announced at the festival and awarded cash prizes. To date, three Open Mind Film Festivals have been held, each of them virtual, and over 330 films have been submitted.

To view the 2023 festival, please click on the Open Mind Past Events tab.


This year's Festival, to be hosted by actor James Lafferty, will be held in person at UCLA's James Bridges Theater on Sunday, April 21, 2024. The deadline for film submission (5 minutes or less) is March 22. For information, please visit

The trailer below highlights scenes from the impactful finalist films screened at last year's festival.

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