Three 11th-grade students from The Harker School in San Jose have captured the grand prize in a prestigious documentary filmmaking competition sponsored by C-SPAN.
The students — Jason Lin, Amar Karoshi and Sara Yen — prevailed in the 2020 StudentCam contest with “Cmd-Delete: Technology’s Damaging Effect on Democracy in 2020.” It’s a six-and-a-half minute film that delves into online privacy concerns and poses the question: “Are tech companies killers, or pillars, of democracy?”
The film is scheduled to air at various times throughout today, April 21, on C-SPAN. It can also be viewed here.
StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues affecting their communities and the nation. This year, students in grades 6-12 were asked to create a short video documentary on a topic related to the contest theme, “What’s Your Vision in 2020? Explore the issue you most want presidential candidates to address during the campaign.”
C-SPAN received documentaries from more than 5,300 students representing 44 states and Washington, DC.
Leveraging their proximity to Silicon Valley, Lin, Karoshi and Yen, hit upon a timely topic: data privacy issues and tech regulation. Among the interview subjects featured in their film are former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, former Napster CEO Hank Barry and Alastair Mactaggart, the head of Californians for Consumer Privacy.
Lin, Karoshi and Yen will receive $5,000. The team also won this year’s “Fan Favorite” award, bringing them an additional $500.
During a weeklong period of public voting, more than 18,000 votes were cast, “Cmd-Delete” received over 6,300 of those votes. In a congratulatory video, C-SPAN co-CEO Susan Swain called the film “remarkable” and said the contest judges were impressed by the trio’s “well-rounded take on the issue” and “insightful interviews.”
Scott Odekirk was the faculty adviser on the project.
C-SPAN has held the StudentCam competition since 2006, working with local cable TV providers across the country to invite middle and high school students to produce short documentaries about a subject of national importance. This was the first time the grand prize was won by Bay Area students.
For more information about C-SPAN’s annual StudentCam, competition, visit studentcam.org.