The White House Hosts Its First-Ever Student Film Festival

Film Fest

President Barack Obama speaks with students in the State Dining Room prior to the White House Student Film Festival in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

Back in November, we asked K-12 students across the country to create short films on the role that technology plays in their classrooms. We asked them to tell us why technology is so important, and how it will change the educational experience for kids in the future.

And they responded with nearly 3,000 films.

Today, in collaboration with the American Film Institute, we hosted more than a dozen of the young filmmakers at the first-ever White House Student Film Festival, where we presented our 16 official selections. Special guests included Kal Penn, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, along with Conan O’Brien who addressed the students by video.

To kick things off, President Obama addressed the attendees and told the young filmmakers how great their movies were:

[I]n my official capacity as President, let me just say these movies are awesome. Like all great movies, yours do something special — they tell a story. They help us understand, in this case, the amazing things that are going on in classrooms and how technology is empowering our students and broadening their imaginations and challenging them to dream bigger and reach further.

The President also talked briefly about his ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect 99 percent of America’s students to next-generation, high-speed Internet over the next five years. He announced $400 million in new commitments from Adobe and Prezi to make free software available to teachers and students, helping introduce creative learning materials to America’s classrooms. Coupled with the $750 million in commitments that the President announced earlier this month, private-sector leaders have pledged – in February alone – to invest more than $1 billion in America’s students.

Read his full remarks here.

Lights, camera, action!

If you missed the livestream of the event, don’t worry – the film festival’s official selections, as well as the videos that received honorable mentions, are below for your viewing pleasure:




  1. My student that submitted an entry is a special education student he would have been thrilled just to have his entry effort recognized in some way.

  2. I find it disturbing and inappropriate that your video application for the contest required no reference or space to acknowledge the student’s teacher/facilitator for the film. My students have been national winners before with C-Span where the whole team is recognized. Most times it is the classroom teacher that acts as the guide and facilitates the use of equipment and trains students on proper media techniques. This does not just happen in a vacuum. My students won honorable mention in this competition and yet I was not even given the courtesy of being emailed by you. Am I missing something here? I am their Technology teacher and acted as their facilitator during this competition.
    Thank you in advance for helping me to understand better.

    • Is there a press release to go with the Student Film Festival announcement or at least a list of the winners, states and school districts? I couldn’t find one and my organization would like to promote any from our state. Thanks.

    • Sometimes instead of allowing your ego to fly off the handle, it might be more apporpriate to make a valid suggestion. Often we focus so hard on our goals we might omit ancillary components. It is easier to judge than to do.

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