Announcing a New Partnership with The Philadelphia Film Society for 2022 NGAA Student History Film Festival

Washington, DC – September 19, 2022 – Today, The Better Angels Society announced a new partnership with the Philadelphia Film Society for the 2022 Student History Film Festival. In coordination with the Library of Congress and National History Day®, the organizations will build year-round educational materials for teachers and host the youth Film Festival this November in Philadelphia. 

“I’ve long believed that an understanding of our past is critical to how we think about today and envision the future,” said Ken Burns. “These young filmmakers give me hope for our future. “I love that more and more extraordinary young people use film to engage with our past and tell its stories. This collaboration for the 2022 Student History Film Festival makes documentary filmmaking more accessible to students and teachers across the country.”

“Young people are some of our country’s best storytellers,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “This partnership will enable the next generation of filmmakers to immerse themselves in our great national story and amplify their fresh perspectives.”

“We are thrilled that this partnership will inspire more students to discover history, and share their findings with their peers through film,” said Cathy Gorn, Executive Director of National History Day.

The 2022 Student History Film Festival will screen the six winning documentaries of the Next Generation Angels Awards, the annual prize established in coordination with National History Day to recognize excellent well-researched historical filmmaking by students across the United States and internationally. The middle and high school filmmakers will receive official copyrights from the Library of Congress, where their films will be archived in perpetuity. They will also receive two mentorship sessions: one with Ken Burns, and another with the professional filmmakers named as finalists for The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film. As part of the Film Festival, the students will be interviewed by Mike Mashon, head of the Moving Images Section of the Library of Congress.

The accompanying educational curriculum for the Film Festival will be available nationwide November 2022. The curriculum will include insight into the documentary-making process, highlighting everything from concept development to research to understanding the artistic process inherent in filmmaking.

“The Better Angels Society is investing in the future of history documentary filmmaking in the mode of Ken Burns— the kind that lifts up untold stories and uses archival material to bring the past to life,” said Courtney Chapin, Executive Director of The Better Angels Society. “This program builds upon and leverages the National History Day program to support teachers and their students as they immerse themselves in history, its context, as well as filmmaking techniques that will  inspire future filmmakers.”

“We hope teachers, locally and nationwide, take advantage of these incredible resources,” said J. Andrew Greenblatt, CEO and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Film Society. “We are honored to join The Better Angels Society, The Library of Congress, and National History Day in making these student documentaries and curriculum accessible to aspiring filmmakers.”

The high school Next Generation Angels Award winners are COMMUNIST IN THE CORNFIELDS: ROSWELL GARST’S CITIZEN DIPLOMACY (directed by Maci Hill, 11th grade student at Livingston High School in Livingston, TX), FIGHT FOR OUR WILDERNESS: THE BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS ACT (directed by Abigail Peters, 11th grade student at Roseville Area High School in Roseville, MN), and MORE THAN POTATOES: DEBATE AND DIPLOMACY IN THE MISSION OF THE USS JAMESTOWN (directed by Jessie Henderson, 12th grade student at Bradley Central High School in Cleveland, TN).

The middle school recipients are WHAT THEY TAUGHT US: HOW GRASSROOTS DEBATE AND DIPLOMACY SHAPED THE MILWAUKEE OPEN HOUSING MOVEMENT (directed by Krin Blegen, 8th grade student at Kettle Moraine Middle School in Oconomowoc, WI), MAKAH WHALING RIGHTS: A MORAL DEBATE OF CULTURAL PRESERVATION (directed by Aubrey Grier, 8th grade student at Chief Umtuch Middle School in Vancouver, WA), and WOLVES: BLOODTHIRSTY MENACES OR STEWARDS OF THE LAND? (directed by Lachlan Gebhart, 6th grade student at Lander Middle School in Lander, WY).

To find out more, register, and view the films, please visit the NGAA page of our website