Participants in the competition were required to residents of the Washington D.C. area or have D.C.-centered production companies. On hand to award this top prize at a ceremony held earlier this week were D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and SnagFilms CEO Ted Leonsis.
Here's the 16-minute-long “Released to Life."
SnagFilms is the parent company of Indiewire. The full release is reproduced below:
Washington D.C. – January 30, 2012 – SnagFilms and the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development announced the winner of Washington’s Best Film competition today at an event at George Washington University. Student film “Released to Life,” produced by students attending The Documentary Center at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs was named Best Film by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and SnagFilms founder and chairman Ted Leonsis. Steve Knapp, President of George Washington University, was also present for the award ceremony and screening of the film.
Washington’s first-ever Best Film competition was created to celebrate Washington D.C.’s talented filmmakers and find original, diverse storytellers who display the spirit and quality that D.C.-based SnagFilms seeks out in all the films it showcases on its digital network. Above all, the competition was looking for dynamic stories focused on improving the world around us. Participating filmmakers had to be residents of Washington D.C. or have a production company based within the District.
The winning film, “Released to Life,” tells several powerful stories of people returning home after incarceration. With the shadow of past convictions continuing to follow them, these recently released, D.C. based ex-offenders struggle to redefine themselves in a society that they no longer know.
“This contest is the first of many that will highlight the incredible talent that exists here in our nation’s capital,” stated Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “I congratulate these extraordinary young filmmakers on successfully tackling such an important topic and being a shining example for budding filmmakers all over the District.”
The student filmmakers who produced the film at The Documentary Center of The George Washington University were: Jason Wilder Evans, Jatryce Jackson, Kripa Koshy, Yavar Moghimi, Hua “Lily” Qin, Erika Rydberg, Rebecca Taylor and Greg Upwall. Nina Seavey is director of The Documentary Center.
“SnagFilms joins the Mayor and the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development in congratulating these young filmmakers, and The George Washington University, on having produced such an outstanding and important film,” stated SnagFilms’ founder and chairman Ted Leonsis. “We are proud to showcase ‘Released to Life’ on the SnagFilms digital network and shine a light on such a critical issue for our city and country. We hope the SnagFilms audience will watch this film, share it with others and be inspired to take action. It’s what we call ‘filmanthropy,’ and this film is a wonderful example of how ‘filmanthropy’ can engage our community and change our world.”
The film will debut on Snagfilms.com today, and be available on demand, for free, worldwide. The film will soon be available on mobile devices via SnagFilms mobile apps for iPad, Android tablets, Kindle Fire and Android smartphones.
“This is the greatest honor a first time filmmaker could want for their film! Not only is our film available to everyone online, but also the D.C. mayor and local legislators will be watching the film and taking the message back with them to City Hall,” said Yavar Moghimi, who produced the film along with his classmates as part of the 2010 GW Institute for Documentary Filmmaking. “We all went into documentary filmmaking because of its power to tackle tough social issues and inspire change. This recognition will help spread the film's ultimate message: that incarcerated people are transitioning back into society more than ever and we need to make sure they are prepared for the struggles that await them."