A few weeks ago, was the fourth annual Lights. Camera. Help. Nonprofit Film Festival. The festival took place at the Spirit of Texas Theater in the Bob Bullock Texas State Museum September 12, 2012-September 14, 2012. The awards party and keynote address were held at the Scottish Rite Theatre, all in downtown Austin, TX. There was a good turn out this year including a exceptional group of volunteers.

Wednesday, September 12, kicked off the festival. Badge holders enjoyed the Blackbaud Lounge where free drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served before the screenings and during Intermission. The first night there were a few PSAs and short films presented, including “In Her Shoes” and “When the Guns Fall Silent,” to name a few. The closing feature film of the evening was “Maestra (Teacher).” This film told “the stories of eight women who taught on the 1961 Cuban Literacy Campaign as teenagers. Through current-day interviews,the film looked at how these experiences changed their ideas about what it was to live as women in Castro’s Cuba.”

Thursday, September 13, brought more PSAs and short films and an outstanding feature film at the end of the night. Despite the wet weather conditions, there was a good turn out. There were a few PSAs that offered some comic relief such as, “Re-branding Birth Control,” which advertised Bedsider.org, a program by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy based in Washington DC. While some other short films tugged on the heart such as, “Iram’s Story,” which supported the LIVESTRONG organization and the programs it offered.

Before Intermission there was a period of time when some of the creators of the films had a chance to stand up and interact with the audience and participate in a Q and A. The first question asked was basically, How was the process in creating your films and what was kind of a key role in executing it? Mat Hames, whom worked on creating “Iram’s Story,” described his experience working closely with an individual (Iram) to convey his story, “ Iram had a very good sense of humor and allowed us to invade his house. I think the key in getting to know him…and letting him kind of let his guard down… is allowing people to be vulnerable.”

After Intermission, the feature film presented was, “Who Cares About Kelsey,” which was also the winning film of the “Best Feature Film Award,” which was given on Friday, September 14, 2012 at the Awards Party. The film depicted the life a teenage girl named Kelsey Carroll. She was diagnosed with ADHD and living in a world where no one quite understood her. She had a dysfunctional family who didn’t seem to be very supportive and the only people who seemed to care where her teachers. The film follows her journey through her last year of high school and the drastic reforms made to improve the school’s culture and reduce the dropout rate. Kelsey finally finds a group of people who care and those people help her to see her dream and make it a reality.

Finally, the last day of the festival was sounded off by keynote speaker, Turk Pipkin at the Scottish Rite Theatre. Turk touched on The Nobelity Project and what past and current projects they have taken on—Bastrop Replant the Park and 1,000 Books for Hope are just a few. One of the audience members asked Turk what he thought about the privacy issues of those in public places when filming and about permission slips and what he said and what I thought was the most import piece of advice was, Don’t worry much about permission but better yet focus on how the process (situation) changes you as a film maker.

After Turk’s speech the rest of the PSAs and short films were shown at the Spirit of Texas Theater. These were followed by the festival’s final feature film.

Out of the films shown that day, there were two that were winners at the Awards Party, “Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico,” won the “Best Short Film Award” and “Ford Warriors in Pink,” won the “Best PSA Award.” “Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico,” touched on the migration issue facing Mexican citizens. These individuals featured in the film expressed their want to stay in their country and live in their culture enriched rural areas, but needed help to do so.

That night at the Awards Party, attendees had the pleasure of enjoying free food, which was provided by sponsors. During the evening folks had the opportunity to socialize with some of the directors and spoke persons from the showcased films along with other peers of the nonprofit world. The awards party was a magnificent way to conclude the three days full of cause worthy films and bring the Fourth Annual Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival to an end, till next year.

A big thanks goes out to everyone who attended and to all of those who submitted films this year. Lights. Camera. Help. hopes to see you all next year! Don’t forget next year’s submission date will sneak up fast, so get out there and start filming! To keep up with all the upcoming news from Lights. Camera. Help., join the mailing list!

For more photos from the event, click the image above!