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Challenge Prize

Challenge Prize: Overcoming Adversity

The Center for Environmental Filmmaking Challenge Prize is an annual competition open to second year SOC graduate students who have overcome (or are overcoming) challenges and adversity in their lives (such as poverty, marginalization, racism, or personal tragedy) and plan to use environmental and wildlife media to make the world a better place. 

Three to five graduate students will be selected. Successful applicants will each receive a $3,000 prize. The intent of this prize is to provide funding for the creation of environmental and wildlife media. 

Applicants must be in good academic standing in a SOC graduate program (min. 3.5 cumulative GPA), and be committed to making environmental media that aim to influence personal behavior or public policy. 

To apply, applicants are required to:
  1. Submit a resume.
  2. Submit a letter of recommendation from an AU faculty member.
  3. Provide a personal statement up to two-pages double spaced that addresses the adversities that they have overcome (or are currently facing).
  4. Provide a synopsis (no more than 300 words) of their envisioned media project.

A condition of the award is that all awardees give an inspirational five-minute presentation in the Doyle/Forman Theater at a Center for Environmental Filmmaking event reflecting on how they will use media to change the world. Awardees will have the opportunity to work with Professor Chris Palmer to develop their presentation. Each one will be videotaped and posted on the Center's website. The goal is to practice effective public speaking and inspire other students.

This prize is non-renewable, and the deadline each year is October 1. Winners will be announced every year by October 21. A faculty committee will judge the entries and grant awards based on the criteria outlined above. 

If you have questions, please contact Professor Chris Palmer: palmer@american.edu.

Announcement from Professor Chris Palmer:

 

Doaa Nour, Kent Wagner, Chris Palmer and Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath pose for a picture

Doaa Nour, Kent Wagner, Professor Chris Palmer, and Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath

Congratulations to the following three SOC graduate students for winning a Challenge Prize for overcoming adversity (sexism, Islamophobia, and ageism) from the Center for Environmental Filmmaking: Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath, Doaa Nour, and Kent Wagner.

A condition of the award is that all winners give an inspirational five-minute presentation in the Doyle/Forman Theater at a Center for Environmental Filmmaking event reflecting on how they will use media to change the world. Winners will have the opportunity to work with me to develop their presentations. Each one will be videotaped and posted on the Center's website. The goal is to practice effective public speaking and inspire other students. 

EHK_CEF_Challenge Prize Winner 2016

Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath is a second-year MFA candidate pursuing a degree in Film and Electronic Media. Elizabeth finds the medium of film to be the best expression of storytelling especially for environmental and wildlife related issues. She recognizes the challenges she faces in a male-dominated industry but believes that the female perspective is invaluable. She is currently pursuing a film on bird rehabilitation and the artistic nature of one woman in the US Virgin Islands.

Doaa_CEF_Challenge Prize Winner 2016

Doaa Nour is a Muslim Egyptian MA student in Film and Media Arts. She graduated as a painter, worked as a live-talk show host, and pursued her study and career in filmmaking and voice-over narration. Her mission is to conquer the darkness of Islamophobia with the light and glory of the truth. Her Thesis "Incredible But True" is a web series about conservation and nature's free remedies for everyone. Based on science and Allah's Islamic teachings, her project introduces untraditional methods of healing and well-being that depend on God's gift: nature.

Kent_CEF_Challenge Prize Winner 2016

Kent Wagner is a second-year MFA Candidate in AU's film program. His concentration is on environmental topics. He comes to filmmaking after careers in music production and as a still photographer. Kent has also spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, including some 1500 days (and nights) on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, and as a climbing guide on Denali and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Kent's thesis film centers around the deforestation taking place in Borneo and its effects on the island's indigenous Dayak people. 

Congratulations again to Elizabeth, Doaa, and Kent. Their selection is a testament to their hard work, tenacity, and perseverance, as well as to their determination to make creative films on conservation that matter, that makes a difference, and that make the world a better place. 

Previous winners:

  • 2015: Shannon Lawrence, Will Reid, and Sam Sheline