A Celebration of the #JusticeAidPrize Winners

Watch the recorded event on YouTube.

A Celebration
The #JusticeAidPrize, created in partnership with the Civic Life Project’s Democracy 2020 Youth Film Challenge, recognizes young filmmakers with extraordinary talent and a passion for social justice. At the JusticeAid Film Forum, held on September 17, 2020, we watched the films, announced the winners, and heard how the finalists are using their art to get out the vote and promote civil rights.

Many thanks to our distinguished judges; Rose Anderson of the New York Film Festivals; special guests Jason Hehir, Director, The Last Dance, and Kimberley Martin, NFL reporter for ESPN; and to the Civic Life Project.

Social Media Campaign Prize Winners
Short Documentary Campaign Prize Winners
Honorable Mention Prize Winners
Youth Film Challenge

Democracy 2020 Youth Film Challenge Semifinalists: Short Documentary

Burning Bridges: The Mountain Valley Pipeline
Ava and Mia Lazar

Cmd-Delete: Technology’s Damaging Effect on Democracy in 2020
Amar Karoshi

Justice for All
Sam Schadt and George Fink

Stronger than Steel
Jacob Pincus

Bridging the Partisan Divide
Phoebe Dragseth and Kellen Szumski

The Earth Needs Our Help
Eunjin Lee

The Thing About Bag Searches
Athena Mateo and Mateo Nieto-Buie

Democracy 2020 Youth Film Challenge Semifinalists: Social Media Category

Climate Change Is in Your Hands
Anil Cacodcar

Voter Suppression in America: Frat Edition
Karan Menon

Voter Suppression
David DeMesquita

How Your Vote Can Shape U.S. Climate Policy
William Boucher

Voter Suppression on Young Voters
Stephanie Sithu

Stand Against It
Josh Williams

A Threat to Our Democracy
Francine Redada

Short Films


Susan Lacy is most well known for creating American Masters, the acclaimed PBS biography series profiling artists & visionaries who have helped shape our country’s culture. Susan created the series in 1986 and went on to serve as its Executive Producer for nearly 30 years.

American Masters has garnered unprecedented awards over the years – Susan earned the series 71 Emmy nominations and 28 wins, including a remarkable 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series, in addition to 12 Peabody awards, 3 Grammy awards and a nomination, and an Academy award and 4 nominations.

Susan has also directed multiple award-winning films for the series: Inventing David Geffen, Judy Garland: By Myself, Joni Mitchell: A Woman of Heart and Mind, Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note, Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice, Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval. She produced the American Masters films Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, LennoNYC, and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.

Susan has received lifetime achievement awards from CINE and the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts. She served on Television Academy’s governors board for two terms and is currently a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In 2013, Susan began a new chapter in her long and celebrated career – she made the move from public television to independent filmmaking, with the formation of her own company, Pentimento Productions. Susan has most recently directed & produced Spielberg, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, and Very Ralph, all for HBO Documentary Films. Spielberg was the first project in her company’s exclusive multi-picture deal with HBO. The film had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in 2017 and was later nominated for an Emmy. Jane Fonda in Five Acts had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and its international premiere at Cannes Film Festival. The film was nominated for the 2019 Emmys. Her most recent film, Very Ralph, aired on HBO in November of 2019.


Louis Massiah is a documentary filmmaker who addresses important but often-neglected subjects with integrity, insight, and artistry.

His innovative approach to documentary filmmaking and community media have earned him numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship (1996-2001), two Rockefeller/Tribeca fellowships, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

His award-winning documentaries, The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1986), W.E.B. Du Bois – A Biography in in Four Voices (1996), two films for the Eyes on the Prize II series (1987), and A is for Anarchist, B is for Brown (2002), have been broadcast on PBS and screened at festivals and museums throughout the US, Europe, and Africa. In 2011, he was commissioned to create a five-channel permanent video installation for the National Park Service’s President’s House historic site.

Massiah continues to work as an independent, documentary filmmaker and serves as executive director and founder of the Scribe Video Center, a non-profit organization that seeks to explore, develop and advance the use of electronic media, including video and audio, as artistic media and as tools for progressive social change.


Shola Lynch is an award-winning American Filmmaker best known for the feature documentary FREE ANGELA & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award-winning documentary CHISHOLM ’72: Unbought & Unbossed. Her independent film body of work and her other collaborative projects feed her passion to bring history alive with captivating stories of people, places and events. Since 2013 she has also served as the Curator of the Moving Image & Recorded Sound division of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In 2016, Shola became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Ray Suarez is co-host of the weekly radio program “World Affairs,” presented by the World Affairs Council of Northern California and KQED FM. He has just completed an appointment as the McCloy Visiting Professor of American Studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Suarez has hosted programs for Al Jazeera America, PBS, and NPR. He has authored three books, “Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation”; “The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America”; and “The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration.”

His series of interviews with historian Howard Zinn has been collected for a new volume from New Press this year, and he contributed a chapter to “The Good Fight,” a collection of writing from historians and activists on the long struggle for equality in the United States.

During his years at the PBS NewsHour, Suarez was the lead correspondent for coverage of global health challenges, filing a vast array of stories from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, from the H1N1 pandemic in Mexico, to fighting HIV-TB co-infection in Southern Africa, to broadening vaccine access in Nicaragua, eliminating a major cause of child death.

Earlier in his career, Suarez was a Los Angeles correspondent for CNN, a reporter in London and Rome, and an editor and producer for ABC Radio News in New York. An active Episcopal layman, Suarez is a member of the governing body of Washington National Cathedral, the Chapter. He holds a BA in African History from NYU, an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and 15 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across the US.


Fritz Friedman was the Sr. VP of Worldwide Publicity for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for over 30 years. He served as an Adjunct Professor at the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California.

At the beginning of his career, Fritz worked at Columbia Artist Management Company and Dick Young Production Company and as a producer on films such as “The State of Marriage” and “Kid Kalafu”. He is currently President of The Fritz Friedman Co., a production and communications company.

He has been the California Humanities Governor Appointee to the board of directors for 7 years and a board member of Loyola Productions since 2008. He is also a managing partner for Group Unlimited LLC, a high-level strategy, marketing, and communications consultancy with a special focus on diversity.


Tate Donovan is an American actor, voice artist, and director, known for portraying Tom Shayes in “Damages”, Jimmy Cooper in “The O.C.” and the voice of the title character in the 1997 Disney animated film “Hercules”, the animated television series of the same name and in a few Kingdom Hearts video games.

He also had supporting roles in films, such as “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Argo” Donovan also played Brian Sanders in “Hostages” and White House Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau in “24: Live Another Day”. He has also been a guest star in a number of television series, notably Friends.

He has also worked as a producer of 30 for 30 Shorts, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series.


Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow and Musical America’s 2018 Educator of the Year, is a composer, conductor, visionary, leading figure in music education, and the artistic director/founder of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, renowned worldwide for its diversity and artistic excellence.

Since its founding in 1988, Mr. Núñez has created recognition among composers of the child’s voice as a significant instrument for making music.

Mr. Núñez also leads the University Glee Club of New York City, its fifth conductor since the all-men’s chorus was established in 1894; the principal conductor of American Young Voices concerts of schoolchildren performing in some of the largest arenas in the Northeast; and is sought after nationwide as a guest conductor by professional orchestras and choirs and as a master teacher. In addition, through YPC National he is expanding the YPC model to children’s choruses beyond New York City and is a frequent keynote speaker as a leading authority on the role of music in achieving equality and diversity among children in today’s society.

Mr. Núñez composes countless compositions and arrangements in all musical formats and styles for choirs, orchestras, and solo instruments and has received an ASCAP Victor Herbert Award, the New York Choral Society’s Choral Excellence Award, and the Visionary Award from Bang on a Can. ABC-TV honored him as its “Person of the Week,” and Musical America Worldwide named him among 30 “Influencers” for his contributions to the music industry. NYU Steinhardt has presented him with its Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award, and he holds honorary Doctor of Music degrees from both Ithaca College and Gettysburg College.


Donna Brown Guillaume brings an unusual depth of experience and creativity to her projects in media and politics. An Emmy-nominated television producer, Ms. Guillaume began her career in the Channel 2 Newsroom, then moved to the Los Angeles CBS Network Bureau of “The CBS Evening News”, becoming a top-notch researcher and interviewer, unafraid of powerful or controversial material.

She was then a producer on a newsmagazine show, “Two on the Town” for five years at KCBS. Ms. Guillaume is a founder and former board chair of Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA). She’s also a former board member of the TransAfrica Forum and contributed to its steady growth in membership, co-chairing numerous successful events.

Her documentary work, as an executive producer includes “Reading their Hearts Out,” “Middle School Confessions, “Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives,” all on HBO, and she served as coordinating producer on the PBS film “Passion and Memory” and as consulting producer on “John Lewis: Get in The Way” now on PBS. She is currently in development on “Tip of the Spear: The Story of the Congressional Black Caucus.” A graduate of Harvard University, Donna’s work has garnered a Cable Ace Award, a Christopher Award, an IFFF (International Family Film Festival) Award, and multiple Emmy nominations.

She is a member of the Directors’ Guild of America, NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists), and BAD West (Black American Documentary Filmmakers). She is also a supporter of Big Sisters of Los Angeles, the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI), and Girls Inc.


Chief Creative Officer of Fork Films, Gini Reticker is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning director and producer with a distinguished career that spans more than 20 years.

Reticker helmed The Trials of Spring, chronicling a young woman’s journey from an Egyptian village to becoming an international human rights activist. Its release was part of a multi-media project which included six short films launching online on The New York Times. Concurrently, she executive produced the 2017 Emmy-nominated The Armor of Light.

Reticker directed the widely acclaimed Pray the Devil Back to Hell, an inspiring story of Liberian women whose actions helped bring an end to a brutal civil war. She received an Academy Award nomination for producing the short film Asylum, recounting one woman’s journey to political asylum in the U.S. The same year she was nominated for an Emmy for A Decade Under the Influence, a look at the heyday of 1970s filmmakers, which garnered the National Review Board’s Award for Best Documentary. Her first film The Heart of the Matter, a groundbreaking film about women and AIDS, won the Sundance Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression Award. Reticker also garnered an Emmy for Ladies First, the story of women rebuilding post-genocide Rwanda. She was a creator and executive producer of the PBS series Women, War & Peace, recipient of the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award as well as The Academy of Television Honors Award. Reticker co-produced The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) – nominated for both an Academy Award and an Independent Spirit Award.

She served as Executive Producer on numerous Fork Films supported projects including the renowned Cameraperson; the Netflix original Hot Girls Wanted; 1971; Citizen Koch; Alias Ruby Blade and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.

Social Media


Author and filmmaker, Brian Young, is a recipient of the prestigious Sundance Ford Foundation Fellowship and graduate of Yale University with a degree in Film Studies and Columbia University with a Master’s in Creative Writing Fiction. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, Brian is currently working on Healer of the Water Monster set to be published with Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins in spring 2021.


Allissa V. Richardson is an assistant professor of journalism at the USC Annenberg. She researches how marginalized communities use mobile and social media to produce innovative forms of journalism — especially in times of crisis.

Richardson is the author of Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism. The book explores the lives of 15 mobile journalist-activists who documented the Black Lives Matter movement using only their smartphones and Twitter, from 2013 to 2017.

Richardson’s research is informed by her award-winning work as a journalism instructor. She is considered a pioneer in mobile journalism (MOJO), having launched the first smartphone-only college newsroom in 2010. The MOJO Lab, based on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, expanded globally in 2011 to include classes for allied nonprofit organizations in Morocco and South Africa.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) recognized Richardson as its 2012 Journalism Educator of the Year for her international work. She is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, and the recipient of the prestigious Harvard University Nieman Foundation Visiting Journalism Fellowship.

Richardson’s research has been published in Journal of Communication, Journalism Studies, Convergence, The Black Scholar and many other venues. Richardson serves on the editorial boards of Digital Journalism and the International Journal of Communication. She is an affiliated researcher with New York University’s Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies (CR + DS)

Richardson holds a Ph.D. in journalism studies from the University of Maryland College Park; a master’s degree in magazine publishing from Northwestern University’s Medill School; and a bachelor of science in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana, where she was named a “Top 40 Under 40” alumna.


Neil Parekh is the Director of Network Communications for United Way Worldwide. Neil joined United Way in April 2015 after three and a half years as Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way of Snohomish County in Washington state. Neil’s career spans 20 years in policy and communications.

Neil is responsible for creating a strategic communications partnership with the nearly 1,800 local United Ways in more than 40 countries around the world, and hosts the monthly Twitter Chat (#UnitedWayChat). Follow him on Twitter (@neilparekh_uww).


Sree Sreenivasan is an academic and practitioner in journalism and communications, serving as the inaugural Marshall R. Loeb visiting professor at Stony Brook University School of Journalism in New York. He was previously chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and chief digital officer of Columbia University. He also served as chief digital officer of the City of New York from October 2016 through May 2017.

He has been a technology journalist based in New York City and served as an academic administrator and professor in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In 2015, he was named one of Fast Company magazine’s Most Creative People of the year. He was also identified as the most influential Chief Digital Officer of 2016 by CDO Club.


Liza Donnelly is a cartoonist and writer with The New Yorker Magazine, and resident cartoonist at CBS News. She also writes for the New York TimesForbes.com, and Medium. She has been profiled globally in numerous publications and her work has been exhibited around the world. Donnelly received an honorary doctorate from University of Connecticut, where she delivered the commencement address to the Graduate School ceremony.

Donnelly is a Cultural Envoy for the US State Department, traveling around the world speaking about freedom of speech, cartoons and women’s rights. As a public speaker, Donnelly has also spoken at TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival, the Thurber House, and the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists annual convention, Vassar College, Bard College, Brown University, The Omega Institute, The Society of Illustrators, The Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art, The Norman Rockwell Museum, among other places. Donnelly was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning and NBC and has been interviewed on radio and in numerous magazines.

Donnelly is the author/editor of sixteen books and was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. She wrote the critically acclaimed history, Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons.

Donnelly wrote and illustrated seven children’s books for Scholastic, Inc. and two children’s books with Holiday House.

She is a charter member of an international project, Cartooning for Peace, helping to promote understanding around the world through humor; and is one of the founding members of USA FECO, the US chapter of the international cartoonists’ organization FECO. She has curated several exhibits of international cartoonists, here and abroad. Donnelly taught at Vassar College and the School of Visual Arts and is a member of PEN, the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists and the National Cartoonist Society. She is the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Connecticut, a Reuben Award from the NCS, the Salon St. Just, France International Prize, the Woman of Distinction Prize from the American Association of University Women; and was a member the jury of the World Press Cartoon Prize in Lisbon, the Cartooning for Peace Prize in Geneva in 2012 and 2014, and the Aydin Dogan International Cartoon Competition in Istanbul, Turkey. Her cartoons are in the Library Of Congress Prints and Drawings Collection, the Society Of Illustrators Collection and private collections.

She lives in New York with her husband, New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin.


Johnny Perez is the Director of U.S. Prison Program for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, a membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He adds value, insight, and leadership to existing campaign efforts working to end the torture of solitary confinement while building the capacity of faith leaders and directly impacted communities to engage in education and advocacy in the United States.

Drawing on the wisdom of thirteen years of direct involvement with the criminal justice system, Johnny also works to change unjust policies and practices in the criminal justice system through his participation as a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee and a member of the NY Advisory Committee to The US Civil Rights Commission . Johnny is also on the board of directors of both Space on Ryder Farm and the Juvenile Law Center.

A sought-after speaker, Johnny has been invited to share his thoughts on criminal justice reform at law schools and institutions of higher learning across the U.S.; including various state, regional, and national conferences on topics including the perpetual consequences of justice involvement, access to higher education, and Solitary Confinement. Johnny’s commentary has been published by The New York Times, The Fordham Law Journal, Ebony Magazine, USA Today, and the Daily News.

A recent collaboration with ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign, on the challenges of reentry, yielded into its acceptance into this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Johnny has made appearances on Now This, Capital Tonight, and recently the TV Special, Rikers: What’s Next, a conversation with acclaimed journalist Bill Moyers about a future NYC without Rikers Island jail. Johnny is also a father to a teenage girl and a novice violinist. You can connect with Johnny via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @mrjohnnyperez.



We will continue to raise money for Election Protection between now and the national elections—when the youth vote will be an important factor. This year is the first opportunity for 15 million youth to cast a vote for President. Let’s do everything we can to support them!

Check out some of the submissions to the Democracy 2020 Youth Film Challenge.