American INSIGHT’s nonpartisan, educational Free Speech Film Festival encourages INDEPENDENT filmmakers to exercise their right of Free Speech and the power of film to speak out on issues that are important to them and to their communities. We do not accept films that are produced by commercial entities of any type.

Championing different perspectives (and listening to other points of view) is vital to the future of Democracy! During the past decade, we have received FREE SPEECH FILMS from hundreds of filmmakers in over 58 countries…. Be first in line to submit your most recent film from February 1st – April 30th!

Each year, ONE film is selected as the Free Speech Award Winner by audiences of all ages from around the globe, as well as by residents of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: a “cradle of liberty” for decades before the American Revolution.

American INSIGHT’s annual Free Speech Film Festival is unique in that it showcases FREE SPEECH FILMS, and also provides a marketing platform, networking opportunities, and educational workshops to our 6 Official Selection Award-winning independent filmmakers in need of exposure and visibility.

Each “Official Selection” Winner receives a full month of attention in our newsletters, Spotlight Blog posts, social media channels, plus a full SPEAK EZ recorded interview that will be seen for years to come. Find more SPEAK EZs here:

Only ONE of the 6 Official Selection films is chosen to receive the Free Speech Award, receive our $1,000 honorarium … and offered the opportunity to receive the Award in person in Philadelphia, PA.

Help to educate future filmmakers now, by sharing the wisdom of your experience!

Students enrolled in American INSIGHT’s online course “Make History Every Day!” will write about your film for years to come, as they discuss how the core values of Free Speech, Human Rights and the Rule of Law emerge in societies around the world through the lens of independent filmmakers.

Submit your FREE SPEECH FILM from February 1st – April 30th!

Discover more here:


Past Free Speech Award-winning Directors and Speakers include:

Melinda Raebyne, 2023 Free Speech Award WINNER

Eugene Marlow, 2022 Free Speech Award WINNER

Maya Sanbar, 2021 Free Speech Award WINNER

Wanjiru Njendu, 2020 Free Speech Award WINNER

Robert Greenwald, 2019 Free Speech Award WINNER

Team Enough, 2018 Free Speech Award WINNER

Abby Huntsman, American television personality and former co-host of ABC’s The View.

David Kilgour, human rights defender, author, former lawyer and Canadian politician, remains continuously vocal on many human rights violations around the world

Reggie Shuford, Executive Director, ACLU Philadelphia

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of New America; University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University

Ben Wizner, Director, American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

Samuel Zhou, Deputy Director, Global Internet Freedom Consortium

Michael Perlman, Producer/ Executive Producer of American INSIGHT’s 2012 Free Speech Film Festival Award winning film “Free China: The Courage to Believe,” and Amnesty International official Artist For Amnesty

Discover more:


By agreeing to the terms and conditions stated herein, participants in the Free Speech Film Festival unconditionally accept these rules and regulations:


American INSIGHT’s Free Speech Film Festival Judges include well-known writers, lawyers, scientists, recording artists, media specialists, scholars, historians, civic and cultural leaders from Philadelphia, as well as the general public, and the filmmakers who have submitted their films.

Judges will not be prejudiced by film length, subject matter, filmmaker. They follow established Judging Criteria (below) as they select the SIX Official Selection films. Although it is understood that any evaluation of artistic material involves a certain degree of subjectivity, their decisions will be considered final.


THEME: Relevant to the topic of Free Speech, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.

EMOTIONAL IMPACT/AUDIENCE APPEAL: Visually appealing and entertaining, engender an emotional response, and create a lasting impression.

STRUCTURE/STORY: Clear, logical and effective plot with a meaningful and unique story line.

AUDIO/MUSIC: Appealing soundtrack, original, consistent volume, no background noise.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Effective visuals, lighting and camera angles.

EDITING: Smooth flow, creates a powerful and emotional response from the viewer


Film submissions deadlines:

Early Deadline: February 28

Regular Deadline: March 31

Late Deadline: April 30

Email Notification of acceptance or rejection: before August 1

Free Speech Award Ceremony: TBA


– Submissions must be made electronically through FilmFreeway.
– Guidelines must be followed by all applicants, or films will not be accepted.
– Defective submissions will not be accepted into the Festival.
– Multiple submissions are permissible; however, each submission must be accompanied by its own Entry Form and Entry Fee.


FilmFreeway Online Screener


Restricted to individuals 18 years old or above.

Incomplete films will not be accepted.

American INSIGHT’s selection committee(s) reserves the right to determine inappropriate content, such as violence, hate speech, defamation, or pornography; if any content is deemed by the committee(s) to be such, the film will not be accepted.
Previously broadcasted and/or independently/commercially distributed films will not be accepted.


No restrictions.


International submissions will ONLY be accepted through FilmFreeway, including the Entry Form and Entry Fee.

All non-English films must include English subtitles.

All International film submissions must agree with copyright rules and regulations.


Filmmakers submitting to the Free Speech Film Festival are encouraged to submit trailers along with their signed Entry Form and Entry Fee. Trailers may be included in our online pre-Festival promotional activities. Trailers must be submitted on FilmFreeway only. All terms and conditions regarding the Free Speech Film Festival apply to Trailer content, too.


Submitter is responsible for notifying the Free Speech Film Festival of any and all changes in contact information as soon as they occur.

All communication will be through email to the primary email address provided, including: reception of submissions, acceptance and non-acceptance of submissions into Festival, defective submissions, etc.

Notification of acceptance status will be sent no later than August 1.


The final five films chosen may be promoted in perpetuity by their filmmakers as Official Selections of the Free Speech Film Festival.

Acceptance of a film by the Free Speech Film Festival in no way obligates the Festival to screen or award any film, and such additional actions are done so at the discretion of the Festival and its committee(s).

Official Selections for the Free Speech Film Festival are selected by the Selection Committee, based solely on the Judging Criteria stated above.

Official Selections are in no way an endorsement of the film’s content by any representative of the Free Speech Film Festival or American INSIGHT.


Do not submit press kits until notified (unsolicited kits will not be returned).

Upon notification of acceptance, press kits will be requested and preferably should be submitted through FilmFreeway.

Press Kits should include: still photos (300 dpi); synopsis of the film (100 words or less); Trailer; filmmaker statement, photo, and biography.


Entry Fees are non-refundable.

Filmmakers retain the copyright of their film.


All archival materials used in your film must be credited within the film itself and be included within its run time.
The submitter and/or undersigned expressly warrants that it has obtained all necessary copyright clearances for original works of authorship used in the film, and all rights and clearances necessary to exhibit the film.

The submitter and/or undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless American INSIGHT and the Free Speech Film Festival from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, fees, and expenses (including but not limited to reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos submitted, and any claims arising out of or in connection with the exhibition of the film.

American INSIGHT is grateful to FilmFreeway for being a Sponsor of the FREE SPEECH FILM FESTIVAL,

Speak out against injustice by submitting your film to American INSIGHT's 2023 Free Speech Film Festival! The Free Speech Film Festival honors filmmakers who create films that promote Free Speech, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law. Championing different perspectives and listening to other opinions is vital to the future of Democracy - and is at the core of American INSIGHT’s mission. JOIN US now by submitting your film to the 2023 Free Speech Film Festival before April 30 on Film Freeway. One film from the six “Official Selection” Winners is selected as the Free Speech Award-Winner by audiences of all ages from around the globe, including those in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a “cradle of liberty” for decades before the American Revolution. American INSIGHT is a nonpartisan, educational nonprofit and its annual Free Speech Film Festival that has a unique focus on education. The annual Free Speech Award Ceremony showcases the six “Official Selection” winners and features a screening of the final Free Speech Award-Winning film, plus an in-depth discussion with its Director. The six “Official Selection” films will be featured on the Free Speech Film Festival website in perpetuity, as well as on our distribution platform, Eventive, and all Directors will be interviewed for the Free Speech Spotlight Blog. The Free Speech Award-Winning film and its Director will also be promoted over American INSIGHT’s social media channels in perpetuity. In addition to entertaining and enlightening audiences, your film also educates them. Students enrolled in American INSIGHT's “Make History Every Day!” online course will write Free Speech Spotlight Blog posts about your film for years to come! Each Free Speech Award-Winning Director is also invited to participate in a SPEAK EZ hybrid gathering with students enrolled in "Make History Every Day!" These events are recorded and featured in perpetuity on the American INSIGHT and Free Speech Film Festival websites. Submit your film before April 30 on Film Freeway! For complete rules and regulations, including judging criteria and submission guidelines, visit our Free Speech Film Festival page on Film Freeway.
Free Speech Film Festival, Vote for Free Speech