NEW YORK – Student activists from coast to coast are participating in protests in response to efforts to ban materials referencing Critical Race Theory, GLBTQIA+ issues, or books about or by authors of color. But how do students feel about current threats to their First Amendment rights? The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is seeking submissions from young people to share their stories and participate in the Youth Free Expression Film Contest.  The deadline for contest entries is September 19, 2022.

2022 marks the 20th Anniversary of the NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Film Contest and offers student filmmakers age 19 or younger an opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity. Participating young people are encouraged to submit a short 3-minute film in response to this year’s theme What Does Free Speech Mean to Me? Young artists are encouraged to highlight a contemporary First Amendment issue that personally resonates with them and may incorporate animation, photographs, music, or other creative mediums. Any genre of film is accepted, including but not limited to documentary, music video, narrative, and animation.

Films can serve as a powerful vehicle for young people to voice their concerns and advocate for their First Amendment rights. The film contest offers an opportunity for young people to respond to unprecedented waves of censorship incidents that work to silence student voices and their freedom of expression in public schools and school libraries.

A panel of renowned filmmakers, writers, artists, and activists will judge entries. Winning entries will provide exemplary content, artistic and technical merit, and creativity. The top three filmmakers (individual or team) will receive cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250. A first-place winner will be announced in October 2022 and receive a scholarship to the New York Film Academy (terms and conditions apply). Also, this year’s winning entry will screen during the NCAC Awards Benefit on November 15, 2022, at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Contest participants must be either living in the U.S. or its territories and must be age 19 or younger on the day of contest entry. The deadline for submissions is September 19, 2022.

NCAC’s Youth Free Expression Program Film Contest is made possible by generous support from the New York Film Academy. Additional contest information, tips on filmmaking at home, content ideas, and copyright tips are available at

About National Coalition Against Censorship
Since its inception in 1974, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has functioned as a first responder in protecting freedom of expression, a fundamental human right and a keystone of democracy. Representing 59 trusted education, publishing, and arts organizations, NCAC encourages and facilitates dialogue between diverse voices and perspectives, including those that have historically been silenced.