The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has partnered with the Civic Life Project and the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative to launch the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge. Residents of Berkshire County, MA, Columbia and northeast Dutchess counties, NY, and northwest Litchfield County, CT, ages 14 to 24 are invited to submit a 6-minute film that highlights divisions and inequities in society, and how young people are tackling challenges in their families, schools and communities. Films can focus on topics such as climate change; the state of our democracy; exclusion based on identity, age, religion or social or immigration status; or any local, national or global issue for which there are opposing views yet possibilities for reconciliation and healing.

Virtual classes and one-on-one advice from professional filmmakers will be available starting July 15 until October. Equipment is available on a limited basis. Films must be submitted by Nov. 1. A panel of filmmakers will judge entries and award a $2,000 first prize, $1,000 second prize and $500 third prize. Select films will be screened at events this fall. “It’s 2021 and we are in a pivotal moment in American history and politics—a moment where youth across the country can shape our nation’s future and be an important part of how it unfolds,” said Catherine Tatge, founder of the Civic Life Project.

“We hope this challenge gives our local students an opportunity to harness the medium of film to examine pressing issues in our communities,” said Diane Pearlman, executive director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative. “We want them to know they have a voice to effect positive change and at the same time can develop new skills that can help them in school and in their future careers.” The Youth Film Challenge expands on a Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation grant program that awarded nearly $50,000 to 21 local groups earlier this year to bring people together to explore shared interests, address a problem through dialogue and action, or consider an issue through a range of perspectives. These grants were made possible with generous support from Berkshire Bank and the Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation.

Berkshire Taconic also partnered with The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Bank to host a four-part Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Speaker Series featuring noted guests on topics such as race, social cohesion, the media’s role in polarized times, and promising local engagement efforts.

To learn more and apply, visit

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