For this year’s Youth Free Expression Program Film Contest, The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) encouraged U.S. high school students to create a film exploring issues related to free speech. The three winners broadly explored the meaning of their First Amendment rights with films that examined family life and controversial matters, personal expression, and the censoring of opinions.

First place went to Lipicka Prasath for Appetizer, the story of an unsettling family dinner that skirts controversial discussions and challenges assumptions about free speech. Second place was awarded to Fitting In, directed by Mark Leschinsky, which cleverly illustrates the importance of free expression and being true to yourself. The third place award was given to Casey Leone and Helen Rumsey for their film Monkeys’ First Amendment, a comedic sketch of basic First Amendment rights.

The contest was chaired by Jonathan Whittaker, the New York Film Academy Chair of Short-term Programs, along with judges   Alex Gino, Award-Winning Author; Emily Knox, NCAC Board President; Gina Leonetti, Director and Producer, and Emily Whitfield, Founder and President, Emily Whitfield Communications.

The top three filmmakers will receive cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250. The first place winner will also receive a scholarship to the New York Film Academy.

FIRST PLACE: Lipicka Prasath (Bothell, WA)

SECOND PLACE: Mark Leschinsky (Hackensack, NJ)

THIRD PLACE: Casey Leone and Helen Rumsey (Charlottesville, VA)