In 2018, the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, in partnership with the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), launched a middle & high school student short film contest.  The goal was to encourage creative student exploration and education, while recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Senator’s keynote address at the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago, a tumultuous time in our nation’s history.  We received wonderful and diverse entries for our inaugural endeavor.

Turn the clock ahead a year.  2019 marks the 60th anniversary of statehood in Hawaii.  We shared items from the DKI Collection relating to the events marking statehood in 1959 with the student filmmakers.  They reflected on what this moment in time represented, and where they see Hawaii going in the next 40 years of our centennial of statehood.

The culmination of the competition brings student finalists from across the state together for a film showcase as part of HIFF’s official program and have the opportunity to engage with film industry leaders and talent.

2020 will be a big year for Hawaii and our country.  As we enter into a third year and into a presidential election year, we are excited to continue building off of the growing momentum and positive feedback we received from participants and seek submissions from all neighbor islands for 2020’s theme: “A Letter to the President: Transitions in Democracy.”

A time-honored tradition, the outgoing President leaves a handwritten letter to his successor, offering encouragement, words of wisdom, and support. Regardless of political party, winners or losers, these letters have become a symbol of transition in our American democracy, and an opportunity to reflect on the grace and wisdom of those who serve as Commander-in-Chief.

Student filmmakers are asked to explore the importance of civic engagement by using a letter or a message to the future President. What message would you leave on the Resolute Desk?

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