Winner in National Youth Film Competition to be Announced

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Date: April 20, 2016
Contact: Jerry Willis, National Park Service, (646) 356-2105
Contact: Sarah Novatt, Sunshine Sachs, (212) 691-2800

New York, NY –The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island and the National Park Service (NPS) and Tribeca Film Institute® (TFI) are pleased to announce the red carpet premiere of The America I Am (TAIA) national youth film competition at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday, April 21st. A jury of film professionals and NPS officials will select a grand-prize winning short film and the winner will be announced in the evening at a NPS Centennial Celebration in the Great Hall on Ellis Island and via Twitter @statueellisnps at 7:15 PM. The grand prize is the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) award, a $10,000 scholarship for post-production services and film education.

The competition invited youth, ages 13 to 18, to create and share a personal film of up to five minutes in length that explored their American experience. It was designed to uncover the stories of young Americans of all backgrounds in order to better understand our shared culture and history. Entries from across the country were reviewed and five finalists were chosen to be mentored by film industry professionals to help them polish their films for their premiere in New York City. Each finalist received a $1000 production award and a trip to New York for the Tribeca Film Festival and the NPS Centennial Celebration on April, 21st. The five finalists are:

  • "Fire" from Katie Ajemian, Felicity Petruzzi and Eliza Price (The Taft School - Watertown, CT)
  • "American Seoul" from Jeeyoon Lee (Alexandria, VA)
  • "Of Gods and Bells" from Alexia Salingaros (San Antonio, TX)
  • "Free Running through Baltimore" from Tyson Sanford-Griffin (Wide Angle Media - Baltimore, MD)
  • "Make it Float" from Aden Suchak and Taofeek Abijako (Youth FX - Albany, NY)

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial in 2016, we are inviting a new generation to discover and make their own connections to the rich heritage and extraordinary beauty of our nation's public lands. Tribeca Film Institute is the ideal partner in this effort with their education programs that empower students through hands-on training and socially relevant films that offer young people the civic skills to be creative active members of society.

"One of our roles is to serve as America's storyteller" said National Park Service Deputy Director Denise Ryan. "We're thrilled to collaborate with Tribeca Film Institute and excited to see America through the eyes of the next generation of storytellers."

"We're proud to partner with National Park Service for The America I Am competition," said Anna Ponder, Executive Director of TFI. "We look forward to seeing young people's perspectives on American history and culture, and we are excited to give them the opportunity to have their work seen by industry leaders at our special event during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival."


Thursday April 21, 2016 at 11 AM 


Tribeca Screening Room
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY10013

Filmmakers and officials from Tribeca Film Institute and the National Park Service will be available for photographs and interviews beginning at 10 AM in the Loft at the Tribeca Grill located at 375 Greenwich.The Loft is the special events room on the second floor, located next door to the Tribeca Screening Room.

About Statue of Liberty National Monument (

"The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World" was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and designated as a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation in 1924.Its purpose under the National Park System is to preserve, protect, and interpret as a national and international symbol of freedom and migration and to promote understanding, reflection, and discussion about the meanings of liberty and opportunity.

About Ellis Island (

Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation's premier federal immigration station. In operation until 1954, more than 12 million immigrants were processed at the station. It has been estimated that more than 40 percent of America's population today can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island. After 30 years of abandonment, the main building was restored by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and, working in partnership with the National Park Service, opened as a museum in September, 1990.

About Tribeca Film Institute (https://

Tribeca Film Institute champions storytellers to be catalysts for change in their communities and around the world. Each year, we identify a diverse group of exceptional filmmakers and media artists and empower them with funding and resources to fully realize their stories and connect with audiences. Further, our education programs empower students through hands-on training and exposure to socially relevant films, offering young people the media skills necessary to be creative and productive global citizens. We are a year-round nonprofit organization founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in the wake of September 11, 2001.

About NECO (

The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) is proud to partner with our friends at National Park Service and Tribeca Film Institute to recognize and celebrate both the stories and storytellers of America. NECO is the sponsor of the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, which are presented annually on Ellis Island to Americans who share their compassion, generosity and unique talents with those less fortunate. In sponsoring the NECO Award, we are not only recognizing the exciting new perspectives of America's youth but we are also acknowledging the infinite number of American stories that are still to be told. As a non-profit dedicated to diversity, tolerance and brotherhood, we see The America I Am competition as an ideal opportunity to nurture young filmmakers and provide them with a platform for their stories to be shared.

Last updated: April 20, 2016

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