Background, Judging Criteria, Winners, Badges

Elfenworks, in partnership with Campus Moviefest, invites students to become social justice filmmakers and musicians by participating in Campus MovieFest and/or College Battle of the Bands.  It’s an opportunity to win up to $10,000,  make a difference with your art, and have fun, all at once.

How it Works

Filmmakers at participating CMF schools can sign-up for free online and get all the gear needed to tell your story in a week. Or, students who attend any US college or university submitted their short movies online. Musicians submit their tracks online by the same deadline. Winners are selected by the Elfenworks Foundation, based on the following criteria:  story, message, cinematography, audio/music/narration, and overall impact. Winners will be announced at the CMF International Grand Finale, often by celebrity stars.  Since the grand finale moved to Los Angeles in 2011, we’ve been honored to have such wonderful celebs as Larry Wilmore (2013), Nate Parker  (2012), Gabouray Sidibe (2011) as presenters for our Elfenworks/Campus Moviefest Social Justice Award.

A NOTE TO STUDENTS:  Every year, the number of entries into our category grows. We want to THANK YOU for being a social justice filmmaker, lending your artistic eye and your voice to issues you care deeply about.  We want you to have the best chance of winning, so please invest a few minutes watching our ‘filmmaker tips’ video, above.  And then you might want to peruse some of the previous years’ entries.


There is one first prize of $10,000 and one runner-up prize of $3,500.   Judges may award an additional $1,000 prize for artistic excellence or best message.  Cash prizes will be distributed by Campus Moviefest. There are also bragging rights: you’ll be an award-winning social justice filmmaker.  And finally, your winning film will air on Virgin America airlines!

Categories of Winners

Check out our previous winners in each of these important thematic areas (click title to expand):

In this category, students convey hope in the American landscape, often through individual hero stories, tales of personal triumph or of supporting someone else in the face of adversity - whether over poverty, inequality or some other social injustice. 

Previous winners include:

These films bring home the story of someone or some group that, unwilling to be overcome by the problem, tackles it.  They tell the tale of visionaries who are doing something to create a positive change.  As Lauren Speeth, CEO of The Elfenworks Foundation explains, “We’ll always consider films that tell the story about how NOBODY should underestimate their ability to make a ripple of positive change.”  This has been our most popular topic, and we invite you to tell us about the heroes in your community.

Previous winners include:

Let your imagination soar and think of artistic and creative ways to portray your message.   Your film may rise to the top and sweep the award, or it may earn a special mention for your creativity, your artistry, your plot twist, or some other special winning attribute.Although horror is NO LONGER an official category, you can still submit your film and we will consider it under “artistic and other.”

Previous winners include:

The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality’s website, breaks social justice issues into 35 distinct categories.  Over the years, students have shown keen interest in some of the categories and hardly any interest in  others. For example, we’ve had a lot of simple documentaries on homelessness. We’re not saying “stay away from straight documentaries on homelessness” but, to win, you might want to try to find a way to move hearts and minds, rather than simply to inform. Holllywood professionals, when telling social justice tales, often embed a whispered “social justice” message insidehero stories. The classics not only inspire, they also teach us about life’s true meaning. For reference, consider The Pursuit of Happyness, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol (or Scrooged), and Stand and Deliver. 

College Battle of the Bands

Social Justice Music Category:

Since 2009, we have also teamed up with Campus Moviefest and College Battle of the Bands to foster music with an important message.  Musicians, please consider entering our category – we can’t wait to be inspired by your music! Bring your message home in a creative new way that uses the power of music to open ears, hearts and minds.  Win prestige, and cash as well: first prize winners receive $2,500, and runners-up receive $1,500.

Possible directions you may choose to follow include (click title to expand):

Write a ballad which brings home a personal tale of poverty, inequality or social injustice experienced by an individual in America, in the spirit of: Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton; He Was My Brother by Paul Simon; and Brothers Under the Bridge by Bruce Springsteen.

Write a new anthem to rock the world for social justice in America, in the spirit of: This Land is Your Land by Woodie Guthrie; Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer.

Our challenge: write a song that motivates people to work together for social justice in America, in the spirit of the great songs on love, unity and peace:  A Time 2 Love by Stevie Wonder; Where is the Love by The Black Eyed Peas; Ripple by The Grateful Dead; One Love by Bob Marley; Shed a Little Light by James Taylor; and Fly Like an Eagle by Steve Miller Band.

Congratulations to our winning musicians… and especially to the bands who continue in partnership with us,  Eyeshine and A Moment’s Worth,  bands that share our hopeful vision and are empowering audiences with the message that your efforts matter, that you can make a difference.


  • 1st place  “Lady Liberty” by  The Bailen Brothers


  • 1st place  “Finders Keepers” by The Thirst Busters
  • 2nd place “Deep Dish” The Lonely Biscuits
  • 3rd place  “When the Lights Come On” Annie Dingwall




We encourage all our winners to keep in touch with us so we can amplify your successes with social media.

Social Justice Filmmaker Badges

Have you produced a film for our category, tackling a compelling social justice issue? If so, congratulations! We thank you and we salute you. We know how much work went into your effort and we want to help you share this important milestone with your friends and colleagues. You can announce “I’m a social justice filmmaker” with one of these specially designed badges, created just for creative filmmakers like you. Simply copy and paste the code next to the badge of your liking, and you’ll be able to display your accomplishment, loud and proud!  Thank you again for your social justice film…together, our storytelling matters. You’re making a ripple!


Copy and paste the following code:

<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ alt=”CMF Social Justice Filmmaker”></a>



Copy and paste the following code:

<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ alt=”CMF Social Justice Filmmaker”></a>



Copy and paste the following code:

<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” border=”0″ alt=”CMF Social Justice Filmmaker”></a>