LIFT Wins the First-Ever Children’s Resilience in Film Award

LIFT Wins the First-Ever Children’s Resilience in Film Award


LIFT Wins the First-Ever Children’s Resilience in Film Award

Acclaimed Documentary — Featuring New York Theatre Ballet’s LIFT Program and Internationally-Renowned Ballet Dancer Steven Melendez — Will Receive $25,000 Unrestricted Cash Prize

Three Runner-Up Films Will Each Receive $2,500 Cash Prizes 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 20: (L-R) David J. Petersen accepts an award onstage from Susan MacLaury and Albie Hecht at Children’s Resilience in Film Awards at Paramount Pictures Studios on October 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Shine Global Inc)

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, LIFT (2022) was named the inaugural winner of Shine Global’s Children’s Resilience in Film Award at the VIP awards ceremony at Paramount Picture Studios. Filmed over the course of ten years, LIFT shines a spotlight on the invisible story of homelessness in America through the eyes of a group of young home-insecure ballet dancers enrolled in New York Theatre Ballet’s LIFT program, and the mentor who inspires them, internationally-renowned ballet dancer Steven Melendez.

“This is a gift to these children, and I am so grateful to see the vision of all of these filmmakers, to see the vision of what Shine Global has done for the last 17 years. It is astonishing to come to this moment and to see that part of that journey, that torch that has been carried from their work has been carried by these children. They’re now dancing on stages in New York, and all over the world, and they’re now going to be dancing very brightly and highly knowing that they have been honored,” said LIFT director David J. Petersen. “This has been a community that we’ve all shared, and I cannot thank filmmakers who are entirely equals on this stage. We are all equals on the dance floor.”

As the winner of the Children’s Resilience in Film Award, Petersen will receive a $25,000 unrestricted cash prize. LIFT was selected by an esteemed jury panel composed of Kay Wilson Stallings, Maria Perez Brown, Amy Kennedy, Scott Feinberg, and Jana Sue Memel. The winner was selected from an incredible group of nominees including: Gabi: Between Ages 8 and 13 Directed by Engeli Broberg (Sweden/Denmark/Norway), Maika: The Girl From Another Galaxy Directed by Ham Tran (Vietnam), and Scenes From the Glittering World Directed by Jared Jakins (USA). The three runner-up films will each receive a $2,500 unrestricted cash prize. All four films were selected from a pool of feature-length film submissions from 32 countries around the world. The first-of-its-kind award honors the preeminent filmmakers who masterfully highlight and celebrate the inspiring strength, creativity, and power of children across the world. The Children’s Resilience in Film Award seeks to shed much-needed light on the uplifting, inspiring stories of children who offer global audiences hope and the talented filmmakers who tell them. 

LIFT tells a powerful story of how young ballet dancers can create arresting art and still offer boundless hope in the face of housing instability and poverty, and we are elated to award them the first-ever Children’s Resilience in Film Award,” said Susan MacLaury, co-founder and executive director of Shine Global. “By not allowing its young subjects to be defined by their hardships, LIFT is an outstanding model for other filmmakers hoping to tell children’s stories. When we allow children’s strength, hope, and spirit to shine through these traumas and hardships, we create ever-more impactful, boundary-breaking stories for audiences across the world.”

At the VIP awards breakfast ceremony, hosted by Glee actor Mike O’Malley, Shine Global also celebrated its inaugural honorees. Pioneering U.S. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard was honored with the Champion for Children Award for her commitment to advocating for children’s rights; actress and screenwriter Sonia Manzano, best known as “Maria” on Sesame Street, was awarded the Titan Award for her contributions to children’s entertainment; and, 2020-21 Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate Cydney Brown received the Youth Activist Award for her work to inspire children and families to speak their truth and fight for change.

“To receive the 2022 Champion for Children Award from Shine Global has a very special meaning for me, because it comes from an organization devoted to ensuring that neglect, injustice, and tragic consequences suffered by children are neither ignored nor forgotten. Susan MacLaury and Ablie Hecht, I commend you both for giving a strong, effective voice to underserved children and their families across the globe. Your work sharing their incredible and too often tragic stories has indeed raised awareness, promoted action, and inspired change,” said U.S. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. “As Americans, we have a moral obligation to protect every child and ensure that every child has the opportunity for a better, safer, and healthier life.”

“Thank you for this Titan Award, and congratulations to Congresswoman Roybal-Allard and activist Cydney Brown. The films that you are honoring today made me pause,” said actress and screenwriter Sonia Manzano in her acceptance speech. “All children are born resilient. We had a ‘Sesame Street’ producer who used to say, if you look into a crowd of kids and say, anybody who can sing and dance raise your hand, they will all raise their hands. It’s our job to keep that hope in them alive, and these films that show us children and families that we might not ordinarily see make us understand that they should not be forgotten.”

“Thank you Shine Global for choosing me as the 2022 Youth Activist Honoree,” said Youth Poet Cydney Brown. “As a poet, I find joy in making big ideas more accessible through poetry and inspiring others to speak their truth.” 

The inaugural Children’s Resilience in Film Award was sponsored in part by media partner The Hollywood Reporter who uplifted these powerful, culture-shifting films to receive the recognition they deserve; Paramount Pictures; Sunlight Entertainment, Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein Lezcano Bobb & Dang; Mattel Inc;; Quest Pacifica; Jim and Kimberly Caccavo; Ellen and Wendell Maddrey; DreamWorks Animation; IMAX; A.JAFFE; and hospitality partner Sunset Marquis Hotel.


About Shine Global

Shine Global is a non-profit media company that gives voice to children and their families by telling their stories of resilience to raise awareness, promote action, and inspire change. We produce inspiring films and compelling content about underserved 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.

Since our founding in 2005, Shine Global films have won more than 100 major awards, including an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject for Inocente and an Academy Award®-nomination and two Emmys® for War/Dance. Recent films include the documentary-animation hybrid Liyana, the hit documentary The Eagle Huntress, Through Our Eyes: Homefront which is available on HBOMax, and Home Is Somewhere Else which is currently in festivals.