IMAX challenges student filmmakers to create documentaries that drive global awareness of environmental issues

A wide-ranging effort with UN Environment to inspire young filmmakers to address challenges through film

NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2016 – IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX) today launched the first component of its In Focus program to showcase the work of young filmmakers and encourage them to create content that inspires audiences to improve the planet.   Specifically, IMAX has tasked student filmmakers with developing short documentaries to raise awareness of some of today’s most pressing environmental, societal and economic issues.  IMAX will award $5,000 grants to four high schools and a non-profit film workshop selected by the All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF) as exemplary programs. 

IMAX formally announced the grant recipients last weekend during the 2016 AAHSFF Teen Indie Awards held in New York City, which is the world’s largest annual festival for high school filmmakers.   Each of the selected programs has been asked to produce an eight-minute documentary, as well as related content for social media, including Instagram and Snapchat posts.

The recipients of IMAX grants for the 2016-2017 school year are: 

  • Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.
  • University School of Nova Southeastern University, a college preparatory school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Ballard High School’s digital filmmaking program in Seattle
  • Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego
  • Mythic Bridge, public non-profit youth filmmaking workshop in New York City

Executive Director Tom Oliva says, “IMAX represents the pinnacle of film industry achievement and technology. To have a company at their level supporting young filmmakers and immersive arts education is truly incredible. Perhaps more incredible, is that this opportunity offers students a chance to affect social change on a wide scale.”

Partnering with the UN Environment, the In Focus initiative is a component of IMAX Big Picture, the corporate social responsibility program launched in March to leverage the power of film to mobilize action and effect positive change.  The selected recipients – which represent a diverse cross-section of students – will create short films that raise awareness of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as told through the lens of today’s youth.

“Movies have always had an outsized impact on audiences around the world.  For more than a century, great films have shown an unparalleled ability to influence people, build cultural bridges and drive action,” said IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond. “Awarding these grants is a natural extension of IMAX’s origins in documentaries that have educated and informed generations of movie-goers.  As a longtime leader in immersive entertainment, IMAX has an obligation to cultivate young filmmakers and help them promote change by immersing audiences in important issues that will affect the quality of life for generations to come.”

Each of the selected student film programs will create original content to specifically address at least one of the following UN sustainable development goals:

  • Climate action, which calls for efforts to stem greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists cite as a major factor in the earth’s changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.
  • Life below water, encouraging people, enterprises and nations to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources.  According to the UN, some 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
  • Life on land, encouraging people, enterprises and nations to sustainably manage forests, and halt and reverse land degradation.  According to the UN, forests account for a third of the earth’s surface, highlighting the global imperative to reverse deforestation.

“Our environment is an unlimited source of incredibly powerful, engaging and inspiring stories, and we owe it to the planet to tell these to as wide an audience as possible,” said UN Environment chief Erik Solheim. “I congratulate the grant recipients, and hope to see their work on the big screen.”

The UN’s 17 development goals – adopted by 193 UN-member countries in September 2015 – range from eradicating poverty, promoting gender equality and protecting the environment to ensuring universal access to clean water, modern energy and quality education.  UN Environment is the world’s leading environmental authority.

“This effort provides an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to elevate their work to a higher platform and work with new film technology, while encouraging them to use film to effect change and social improvement,” said Gelfond. 

In addition to the rollout of In Focus on a pilot basis in the U.S., IMAX is considering expanding the program to Europe, Africa, Asia and elsewhere, in a joint effort with UNEP.  

In March, IMAX in partnership with UN Environment hosted a panel discussion on “The Power of Film to Effect Change” at The Michelle & Kevin Douglas IMAX Theatre and Immersive Media Lab at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.  In April, IMAX hosted a New York City premiere of A Beautiful Planet, and in June, in recognition of World Environment Day, the company hosted 15 free screenings of the film worldwide.  IMAX also funded film premieres in Nairobi to kick off the 2016 UN Environment Assembly and, later, in Rio De Janeiro, in conjunction with UN Environment’s Green Passport initiative.

About IMAX Corporation

IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

IMAX is headquartered in New York, Toronto and Los Angeles, with offices in London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing. As of Jun. 30, 2016, there were 1,102 IMAX theatres (990 commercial multiplexes, 16 commercial destinations and 96 institutions) in 69 countries. On Oct. 8, 2015, shares of IMAX China, a subsidiary of IMAX Corp., began trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange under the stock code "HK.1970."

IMAX®, IMAX® 3D, IMAX DMR®, Experience It In IMAX®, An IMAX 3D Experience®, The IMAX Experience® and IMAX Is Believing® are trademarks of IMAX Corporation. More information about the Company can be found at www.imax.com. You may also connect with IMAX on Facebook (www.facebook.com/imax), Twitter (www.twitter.com/imax) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/imaxmovies).

About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. For more information visit www.unep.org. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/unep and Twitter at www.twitter.com/unep

About All American High School Film Festival
The All American High School Film Festival is the premiere destination for talented high school filmmakers and media arts enthusiasts from around the world. Our mission is to provide immersive education with a profound impact, connecting the filmmakers of the future with the rewards, respect and recognition they deserve.

Each year, in the heart of New York City, we present the world’s largest high school film festival. We offer a grand stage for the next generation of talented filmmakers where they can: screen their amazing creations, learn from top industry professionals, connect with the latest technology, explore myriad higher education opportunities, receive scholarships and technology prizes, and, perhaps most importantly, create a community of shared passions and lifelong relationships.

We believe in the voices of our youth.

We invest in the stories they have to tell.

We empower young artists to share their stories and transform their world through digital media.