by Shugga Rosenbloom
(Cannes, October 12, 2023).
The Student World Impact Film Festival (SWIFF) is the largest student film festival globally, featuring films from artists in 149 countries. The festival aims to empower filmmakers from marginalized communities to harness the power of storytelling, explore their creativity, and share their voices with the world.
The 2023 edition of SWIFF was held online from June 18 to June 25, and attracted over 18,000 submissions from 12,100 students across the globe. The festival offered all participants free entry, feedback, networking, and distribution opportunities.
SWIFF 2023 attracted over 18,000 submissions from 12,100 students across the globe.
It also hosted various events, such as workshops, panels, screenings, and awards ceremonies.
SWIFF was founded in 2022 by Mark Leschinsky, a 17-year-old Mahwah, New Jersey, student who wanted to create a more equitable filmmaking community.
His idea was based on creating a cost-free festival, amplifying the voices of young creators and providing a platform for them to break into the film industry. In its first 10 months, SWIFF received over 15,000 film submissions from 130 countries.
SWIFF has been a catalyst in empowering more than 3,000 storytellers from marginalized communities in 120 countries to harness the power of storytelling, explore their creativity, and share their voices with the world during the week-long festival.
The festival’s theme “Impact,” reflected the social, environmental, and personal issues and films covered climate change, human rights, mental health, identity, and culture.
Jurors included filmmakers, activists, and educators who evaluated the films based on their artistic merit, originality, and impact.
UVI was represented and featured with an entry, Trust Your GPS (?), by S.D. Rosenbloom (France). It was a short film that showed the compassion of villagers in Old Antibes. The driver’s Global Positioning System malfunctions and leads the driver along the wrong path, but she is helped by strangers.
UVI was represented and featured with an entry, Trust Your GPS (?)
Trust Your GPS (?) demonstrates that the kindness and helpfulness of humans are essential traits that Artificial Intelligence (AI) lacks.
Festival winners were announced on June 25 in a live-streamed ceremony. Winners received cash prizes, scholarships, mentorships, and exposure to industry professionals and audiences. The winners in various categorie included the following:
Best Feature Film: The Last Tree by Fatima Al-Banawi (Saudi Arabia): A documentary that follows a young girl’s journey to save the last tree in her desert village from being cut down by a greedy corporation.
Best Short Film: The Other Side by Nour El Hoda (Lebanon): A drama that depicts the lives of two Syrian refugee sisters who struggle to survive in a hostile environment.
Best Documentary: Voices of Hope by Maria Fernanda (Colombia): A documentary that showcases the stories of five women who have overcome violence, poverty, and discrimination through music.
Best Animation: The Dreamer by Chen Li (China): An animation that explores the dreams and aspirations of a young boy who lives in a polluted city.
Best Experimental: In Between by Sofia Gonzalez (Mexico): An experimental film that uses abstract imagery and sounds to express the feelings of a girl trapped between two cultures.
Best Impact Film: Change by David Osei (Ghana): A film that inspires action and awareness on climate change by showing the effects of deforestation and pollution on a local community.
The festival also awarded honorable mentions to several films with exceptional quality and potential. Some of the honorable mentions were:
A Letter to My Future Self by Anna Nguyen (Vietnam) is a film that captures the hopes and fears of a teenage girl who writes a letter to her future self.
Beyond Borders by Ahmed Zaki (Egypt) is a film that challenges the stereotypes and prejudices that divide people from different backgrounds and cultures.
I Am Not Alone by Sara Khan (Pakistan): A film that raises awareness and support for mental health issues among young people.
We believe that stories have the power to inspire action, spark dialogue, and create empathy. We believe that stories can change the world.” SWIFF founder, Mark Leschinsky
SWIFF 2023 celebrated global storytelling showcasing student filmmakers’ talent, diversity, and impact. The festival was a platform for film exhibitions and a catalyst for social change.
Leschinsky said: “We believe that stories have the power to inspire action, spark dialogue, and create empathy. We believe that stories can change the world.” for film exhibitions and a catalyst for social change.
He added, “We believe that stories have the power to inspire action, spark dialogue, and create empathy. We believe that stories can change the world.”
Student filmmakers are encouraged to visit the SWIFF Film Festival at www.lightgFilmfest.org for more information and submit their films via FilmFreeway.com.