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Four Quick Tips to Help You Enter the No Malice Film Contest

The No Malice Film Contest creates a platform for Illinois youth and young adults, ages 11-21, to explore the topic of racial healing using the medium of film. The contest is offered through a partnership between the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. These organizations partnered together because they believe youth and young adults have the capacity and desire to use their words and actions to promote fairness, heal the wounds within their communities, and participate in social change for the benefit of all.

Here are four quick tips to help you when entering the contest...



The No Malice Film Contest encourages youth to take a creative and thoughtful approach to creating social change by writing and directing short films. In order to enter the contest, you must be an Illinois resident between the ages of 11 and 21. Live-action submissions must be between 3 and 7 minutes long, while animated submissions must run a minimum of 45 seconds. Cash prizes for each age bracket (11-14, 15-18 and 19-21) range from $500 to $2,000 and the contest deadline is April 30th, 2021. Winners will receive cash prizes, and their films will be shown at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Ebertfest film festival. You can find the complete contest rules, information, and recordings of previous sessions by clicking here.


No Malice Film Contest: Second PSA from on Vimeo.


In the brief PSA embedded above, Chaz Ebert joins Jewel Ifeguni in illuminating the historical inspiration for the contest. The name of the contest is inspired by President Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address in which he called for Americans to end slavery, rebuild the nation and bind up the nation's wounds "with malice toward none, with charity for all." But as we learned during 2020 following the death of George Floyd and the social justice protests across the globe, the wounds still sting. To heal, we must first listen to the expression of people’s pain and lived experiences. Storytelling through film has the power to change hearts and minds. My late husband Roger Ebert said that movies are a machine that generates empathy allowing us to put ourselves in the shoes and emotions of another. Empathy can lead to more understanding and compassion, acts of kindness and or forgiveness. It’s essential that the next generation who will lead us to a better place has a chance to be heard. Perhaps they can help forge a path toward unity and harmony through their art.



On Monday, March 29th, at 6pm CT, we invite contest participants to join the director of the award-winning DePaul/CHA Youth Film programs, Liliane Calfee, for an engaging hour covering filmmaking basics for the classroom. This workshop is intended primarily for teachers because Ms. Calfee will review a mini-curriculum including how to engage youth in story building for film, links on how to best shoot with a mobile phone or tablet, and where to get royalty-free stock footage and sound. It will be invaluable. For the past six years, Liliane Calfee has run summer film intensives for youth (ages 15-20) in public housing within DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts. The short films have won awards at multiple festivals such as the Academy Award qualifying “Reel Sisters of the Diaspora” (NYC) and have screened nationally and internationally, including the 2019 Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner. To register for this seminar, click here:


No Malice Film Contest Virtual Event Highlights from on Vimeo.


As part of the No Malice Film Contest, contestants and anyone interested in filmmaking have access to prerecorded sessions led by expert writers, producers, and directors. The sessions highlight the art of telling powerful stories using the medium of film. Embedded above is a composite of the seminars with Pamela Sherrod Anderson, founder of Graceworks Theater and Film Productions and an award-winning writer, filmmaker and playwright; Rita Coburn, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and co-director of "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,"; Oscar-nominated documentarian Steve James, who directed the famed movie “Hoop Dreams” and "Life Itself," about Roger Ebert; Troy Osborne Pryor, a Chicago-based producer, host, and actor and founder of Creative Cypher; and T. Shawn Taylor, a writer, journalist, consultant and documentary filmmaker. You can find all the videos in the official YouTube channel of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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