Announcing the Directing Change 2018 Statewide Winners!

On Tuesday, May 22, 2018 the winners of the 6th annual Directing Change Program & Film Contest were announced at an awards ceremony at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Youth filmmakers from across California were given awards for their short films to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention in several categories, including Mental Health Matters, Suicide Prevention, Through the Lens of Culture and SanaMente – categories focused on the experience of diverse communities – and Animated Short, a new category introduced this year.

The awards ceremony also celebrates outstanding achievement by directors, producers and actors of film and television who serve as role models to the aspiring student filmmakers in the audience by using their platform to draw attention to mental health. Actress and mental health activist, Mädchen Amick, star of The CW’s Riverdale, received the Directing Change Award of Excellence for Mental Health Advocacy to acknowledge her tireless efforts to raise awareness, fight stigma and increase mental health care access.

Mädchen Amick and Hart Denton

Photo Credit: Mädchen Amick

In her remarks Amick discussed how her son’s bipolar diagnosis compelled her to take on stigma and use her celebrity for the greater good. She praised the young filmmakers, “I want to thank all of you for doing your part in changing the landscape around mental health, for being mental health warriors, and doing it so beautifully with your amazing films!”

Director and writer Lisa Klein was honored for THE S WORD, a documentary film about suicide that explores the shame and confusion contrasted with an emerging era of activism, recovery and hope.

More than 1,100 students from 15 Los Angeles-area middle and high schools filled the auditorium along with celebrity guests, including Hart Denton who presented the award to Amick, his “Riverdale” co-star, Eric Bigger from ABC’s Bachelorette season 13 and “Bigger Talks” podcast host, and CeCe Valencia, on-air radio personality with Power 106.

The ceremony also included a musical performance by William Pete Knight High School from Palmdale, CA.

This year the film contest received 742 submissions, representing 2,430 youth from 164 schools and organizations across the state. Entries were judged by nearly 300 advocates and professionals in mental health and suicide prevention, members of the media, and television and film professional.

To view films and for a complete list of statewide and regional winners, honorable mentions and sp  ecial recognitions, visit