Why Hopeful Movies Deserve Recognition

By Susan MacLaury

With awards season coming to a close and festival season beginning in earnest, I have been thinking a lot about the way in which our community awards and elevates films. 

For as long as I can remember, the big honors at shows like the Oscars, the SAG Awards, and the BAFTAs have been presented to films defined by their artistic nature, their grit and tragedy, or their production value. Few movies have been able to break through this mold, with a few notable exceptions, the most recent being CODA.  

When CODA was awarded Best Picture at the 2022 Academy Awards, many called it “an upset,” because it deviated from what we have come to expect from award-winning films.

Rare is it to find a movie about a deaf family that doesn’t end in tragedy. Too often films about marginalized communities focus unilaterally on what it takes to survive, rather than the resilience required to truly live.  A movie that captures the experiences of both the deaf and the hearing bridges those worlds in a way that not only is authentic but also sparks joy, inspires hope, and reveals possibilities to audiences.

It was for these reasons that when Inocente won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2013 –  we couldn’t believe that our colorful, crowdfunded coming-of-age story had been selected, we simply didn’t fit the mold.

But that’s not how it should be. 

Films like Inocente or CODA do more than allow you to escape – they inspire action, compassion, and insight into other worlds. They are catalysts that drive people to step out of themselves and learn more about those who are underrepresented on and off the screen. These are the types of films Shine Global is committed to honoring at our first-ever Children’s Resilience in Film Award this fall. Through May 31, Shine Global is seeking submissions from filmmakers that seek to shine a light on the resilience of children and their families. Five nominees will be selected and their movies will be screened in New York City in September, and the award for Best Picture along with a $25,000 prize will be awarded in Los Angeles in October. 

Creating films that center on the resilience of children and their families, inspire change, and move individuals to action is at the heart of what we do – and we can’t wait to find others who feel as passionate about it as we do.  

Film submissions are accepted through FilmFreeway by May 31st:

Dr. Susan MacLaury, PhD, LSW is the co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit media company Shine Global which gives voice to underserved children and their families by telling their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change.  She executive produced the Academy Award® Winning documentary Inocente, the Emmy Award®-winning, Academy Award®-nominated War/Dance, as well as The Harvest (La Cosecha), 1 Way Up in 3D, The Eagle Huntress, Through Our Eyes: Homefront, and Liyana. She is also the producer of the documentary films The Wrong Light and Virtually Free and co-producer of Tre Maison Dasan. Susan is dually degreed in social work administration and health education and was associate professor of health education at Kean University from 1994 through 2013.

Shine Global is an award-winning non-profit media company that gives voice to children and their families by sharing their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. We produce inspiring films and compelling content about at-risk children. Through tailored distribution and outreach, we connect with our audiences in communities, classrooms, museums, and on capitol hill as part of a powerful engagement campaign to encourage social change.

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