Voices With Impact 2021

Art With Impact presents…


An online festival for films and ideas around underrepresented topics related to mental health!

June 21-25, 2021.

Download and share the RFP!

Supported by:


Voices With Impact is a year-long project that celebrates mental health stories told by filmmakers with unique perspectives and lived experience.

Filmmakers across the world submit proposals to tell unique stories about underrepresented narratives related to mental health, and our distinguished jury members select the strongest ideas from the group. Ultimately, ten teams are awarded $5,000 each to support the creation of their short films.

The 2021 topics for five-minute short films are:

  • Mental health issues specific to Black people.
  • Mental health issues related to immigration experiences.

The world premiere of these films will take place on June 21, 2021 and will be followed by a week-long festival of dialogue and discussion in which our esteemed storytellers led interactive, enlightening sessions on topics related to mental health in marginalized communities.


Download and share this RFP in PDF format!

Proposals now being accepted for $5,000 production grants for the creation of short films in the following content areas:

  1. Mental health issues specific to Black people.
  2. Mental health issues related to immigration experiences.
How it works

Five filmmakers will be selected in each of the two content areas (10 filmmakers total), and awarded $5,000 each to create an original short film (five minutes or less).

In considering mental health issues specific to Black people…Filmmakers might explore the ways that anti-Black racism, intergenerational trauma, oppression, discrimination, institutional violence, erasure, stigma, and microaggresions impact the mental health of Black folks and communities, as well as other ideas you may want to explore related to Black mental health. For this project, we welcome stories of all who identify as Black, including biracial/multiracial folks, African diaspora, Afro-Latinx communities, those with ancestral roots in the transatlantic slave trade or recent immigrants alike.

In considering mental health issues related to immigration experiences…Filmmakers might explore the ways that cultural stigma, generational culture clashes, racism, intergenerational trauma, adjusting to new environments/languages/cultures, identity, chosen vs forced migration, isolation and community, and anything else you may like to explore in this realm, may impact mental health. For this project, we welcome stories of all who identify as immigrants as well as 1st and 2nd generation experiences alike.

Proposals are encouraged to include any considerations of the intersections of identities relevant to the story being told, including gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, nationality, citizenship, and other identities that can impact one’s experience of mental health. This program is designed to support filmmakers regardless of documentation or legal status. We will require a W9 with either SSN or ITIN to process payment.

Proposals will be evaluated by subject matter experts in the two content areas that we’re exploring based on the criteria listed below. Proposals are due October 23rd, 2020. They will be juried by the subject matter experts, and the grantees will be notified by November 30, 2020. The final films must be submitted by April 15th, 2021. Films will premiere in an online worldwide event in June 2021.

How to submit your proposal

Please answer the following prompts:

  1. Name of primary filmmaker
  2. Email of primary filmmaker
  3. Phone of primary filmmaker
  4. Location of primary filmmaker (city, state, country)
  5. Names of any identified additional collaborators (director, director of photography, writer, producer, actors)
  6. Brief description and links (if available) of up to three relevant films and/or scripts that you’ve created – (Max. 150 words per project. Jurors will only watch the first 5 mins of each project)
  7. Which film content area are you applying for?
  8. Brief summary / pitch of your film idea (max. 75 words)
  9. Explain:
    1. WHAT mental health themes are explored in the film?
    2. HOW are mental health themes explored in the film?
  1. Project treatment: outline of story, plot, themes, filmmaking techniques (max. 500 words)
  2. Connection with content area – how voices of Black folks and/or immigration stories will be included in the film, whether it’s through the identities of the filmmaker/filmmaking team, connection or affiliation with the population, or demonstrated awareness of and sensitivity to the population (max. 250 words)
  3. Production schedule from December 1, 2020 through April 15, 2021 (including any resources, locations, collaborations, etc.)
  4. Can you produce your project under COVID conditions while following public health guidelines? How might you meet this challenge?
  5. A realistic and reasonable line-by-line budget for how the $5,000 grant would be used, including any additional funding and funding sources if relevant.
  6. What subject matter expert community organizations or partners might you work/consult with during production, or which organizations would you like to be connected with? (max. 150 words)
  7. Why you, why this film, why now? (max. 250 words)

Save as one PDF titled: LASTNAME – Voices With Impact Proposal – BlackMH or LASTNAME – Voices With Impact Proposal – ImmigrationMH

Please also include a resume as a separate PDF titled: LASTNAME – Voices With Impact Resume – BlackMH or LASTNAME – Voices With Impact Resume – ImmigrationMH

Email both PDFs to [email protected] by October 23, 2020.

Proposals are due at 11:59pm PST on October 23, 2020.Filmmakers will be notified of their status by the end of November. The selected filmmakers will have December 1, 2020 through April 15, 2021 to complete their films, including several meetings with and progress updates sent to AWI’s Program Director throughout the process.

Final films must be submitted by April 15, 2021.In June 2021, there will be a live, online premiere featuring the ten new films, as well as a week-long festival of ideas with educational workshops related to the two subject areas. Filmmakers will be invited to propose educational sessions/workshops, and additional compensation will be offered to develop and deliver these sessions during the festival.

Film criteria

Types of films accepted include: narrative, documentary, experimental, animated, and hybrid.

The maximum accepted level of explicitness for the film submissions will be the equivalent of an R-rated film or less, per the MPAA Rating System. Submissions that propose films including excessive nudity, pornography, excessive violence, and other content that would be considered X-rated or not acceptable for viewing on a college campus will not be considered.

Filmmakers will provide non-exclusive rights to AWI in order to show their films in AWI’s educational settings; filmmakers will maintain full rights and ownership of the films they create. All 10 films will also be eligible to be added to AWI’s OLIVE Film Collection: following the premiere, each film will go through AWI’s regular jurying process to determine whether or not it will be added to OLIVE.

Late submissions will not be accepted.

AWI’s judges will be evaluating proposals using the following criteria:

  • The power and importance of the message the film will aim to convey
  • The artistic and creative approach to telling the story
  • The accuracy of the depictions of mental health issues, stemming from credible research sources and lived experiences
  • The consideration of filmmaking techniques and skill level
  • Identification/connection with the population within the subject matter (i.e. Black-identified, immigrant/1st/2nd generation-identified), and/or demonstrated cultural sensitivity and awareness around the topic
  • How well the completed film could connect with young people (ages 16-25)
  • How the film will reduce stigma around these populations and mental health issues
  • If the film could realistically be completed as a five-minute (or less) film (and not be overambitious / need to be longer)
  • Evidence of filmmaker’s ability to complete this project with a high level of professionalism

AWI will match the selected filmmakers with partner organizations, mental health professionals, and subject matter experts related to the content area for consultation and support. AWI’s staff will be available to support filmmakers and AWI’s Executive Director, Cary McQueen, will also serve as a Story Consultant for all 10 films.


Voices With Impact would not be possible without our funding partners. The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission has been pioneering innovative mental health strategies for 15 years throughout the state of California with a focus on early intervention, prevention, and education.