California Unions Launch ‘Short and Strong’ Student Video Contest to Capture Immigration Stories

Taking their cues from the young immigrant students, known as the DREAMers, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE, the restaurant and hotel workers union, want to encourage more young students to share their stories of immigration—either their own or somebody else’s—with the country, especially with national lawmakers who may vote on an immigration reform bill as soon as later this year. The two labor organizations are sponsoring a student short film contest called “Cortos y Fuertes / Short and Strong.” The author of the best overall video will receive $2,000.

Aimed at current students 13 or older, the contest seeks to capture on video young people’s “stories about immigration, how it has affected communities and lives,” to highlight “immigrant families, pride, hard work and dreams,” according to the contest’s website.

Immigrant student Stephanie del Río declares on an online video promoting the contest:

I’m so proud that the DREAMers, as we are called, have helped move this conversation and push for immigration reform. We did this by telling our stories, by setting our fears apart and talking about the struggles and the sacrifices that our parents have made to immigrate to this country, all in search of a better life.

Video submissions, which can be up to three minutes long and recorded via a smartphone, will be judged by a panel that includes civil rights activists, organized labor leaders, local politicians and Hollywood stars such as Rosario Dawson, Danny Trejo, Demián Bichir, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor head Maria Elena Durazo and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.

Submissions will be judged according to age, popularity (“most viewed”) and overall quality (“best overall”), with money prizes awarded to the best in each category. Prizes will range from $500 to $2,000. Videos are due Aug. 16.

For more details about the contest and useful tips and resources for submissions, please visit www.shortandstrong.com.