On Sunday, April 14th, a special gathering took place in Southwest Austin to celebrate the achievements of an exceptional group of young women and men from around the world. The 7th Annual Girls Impact the World Film Festival (GITWFF) took place on a picture-perfect sunny, clear Austin day and the mood among the 300 or so participants reflected the weather.

What started as a way to engage a wider audience in Connecthers crowdfunding work has evolved into a vibrant international competition and scholarship program for young filmmakers. This Austin-based festival provides a powerful forum for high school and undergraduate students to speak out about critical issues facing girls and women worldwide such as gender inequality, violence against women, economic independence, redefining beauty and access to education.

This year, Breakaway was honored to work with Connecther’s leadership, including founder Lila Igram, to promote the festival to a local and targeted national media audience in order to build awareness and attendance. With esteemed longtime supporters such as festival sponsor Eloise DeJoria Foundation, J.P.’s Peace Love & Happiness Foundation, Capital Factory and Ian Somerhalder Foundation to name a few, not to mention all-star speakers and panelists such as film producer Elizabeth Avellan, Olympic bronze medalist and fencing World Champion Ibtihaj Muhammed, women’s health pioneer in Africa, Edna Adan, award-winning film and TV producer, Effie Brown, this acclaimed program is growing quickly. Further proof of its impact is reflected by the world-class group of film judges which can be found here.

Beyond the inspiring panel discussions and screenings of select film submissions, guests enjoyed a performance by Morrocanr vocalist, ABIR and Olympian fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad who spoke to the audience about her record breaking role as the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the 2016 Olympics. This and her many other athletic awards and contributions to minority women ultimately led to her being honored by Mattel as part of Barbie’s Sheroes collection.

During the evening program, awards were given in 12 categories such as Women in Tech, Judges’ Choice, Green IS, Honest Beauty and Men Stand Up. More than $25,000 in prize scholarships were awarded that will go directly back to the communities presented by the filmmakers. Films like “Lucía” by Gerardo Torres Hernández of Mexico were recognized as winning submissions and invited on stage to accept their award.

Congratulations to this year’s winning submissions! (viewable via links below)

Judges Choice Grand Prize: We Could Be Champion Too by Novera Hasan Nikkon (Bangladesh)

Judges Choice 2nd Runner Up: A Film for Gugu by Aidah Namukose (South Africa)

Judges Choice 1st Runner Up: Dignity by Rachel Deva Rani Dharmapalan (USA)

Global Impact: In Search of Rekha Hasda by Hasanul Hoq and Abu Owazed Sah Showmik (Bangladesh)

Stand Up Men: Stand Up Men by Emily Seshadri (United Kingdom)

Honest Beauty: The Skin Tone Rule by Amanda Gordon (USA)

Green Is: What I Love Most by Nguyen The Kieu Oanh (Vietnam)

GEMS Choice: Child Marriage Robbed Me of My Childhood by Suzete Da Graça André (Mozambique)

Women In Tech: GEMS: Girls Empowered by Math & Science by Sadie Price-Elliott (USA)

Ending Violence Against Women: Surviving Burns by Mallika Sehgal (India)

Best Film Production: A Heist of One’s Own by Priya Ghosh and J Nicholas Meese (USA)

Let Girls Learn: Dilemma by Diana Senator Lyoto (Tanzania)

Most Innovative Solution: Aya’s Home by Aidan Ellis (USA)

People’s Choice: Lucía by Gerardo Torres Hernández (Mexico)

Our team thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and we’re honored to be a part of such an inspiring cause. Thanks to Connecther, its many supporters (including Breakaway!), Girls Impact the World Film Festival will continue to grow and inspire positive change throughout the world.