CONTACT: Aaron Bramley, Executive Director
(917) 678-4590,

August 2nd, 2013

Musical Theme Takes Center Stage at Fifth Annual Cause-Driven Festival
Lights. Camera. Help. announces finalists for 2013 nonprofit film festival, August 15-17

AUSTIN, Texas – Three of the best cause-driven films in the world, “A Film About Kids & Music,” “When I Rise,” and “Brasslands,” have been selected as the full-length feature films at the fifth annual Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival, from Aug. 15—17 at the Alamo Drafthouse Village in Austin, Texas.

Lights. Camera. Help. is an Austin-based nonprofit that encourages cause-driven organizations to tell their stories through film and video. The fifth annual Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival will continue its tradition of recognizing outstanding films for their ability to bring about positive change in the world.

“When people think about cause-related films, often times what comes to mind is crying puppies and babies, but we like to focus on the good happening in the world,” said Aaron Bramley, executive director and co-founder of Lights. Camera. Help. “We want to show that yes, there are terrible things in the world…but there are folks out there who are actively working to [make a difference].”

Submissions for this year’s festival come from around the world and cover a wide variety of topics ranging from poverty, discrimination, stereotypes, child welfare and education, and policy issues. Four of the films feature local Austin causes, such as the Austin Children’s Shelter, Sacred Heart Community Clinic, Amplify Austin, and the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Staying true to Austin’s reputation as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” this year’s three feature films have a musical focus. Although it was not planned, Bramley said that the musical theme is “perfect for an Austin audience.” The three feature films chosen include “A Film About Kids and Music: Sant Andrew Jazz Band,” “When I Rise” and “Brasslands,” all of which have received wide acclaim from reviewers and other film festivals.

On the first night of the festival, Thursday, Aug. 15, the feature-length film will be “A Film About Kids and Music,” which tells the inspiring story of a program in Spain to teach kids to play classic American jazz. It was the winner at the International Music Documentary Film Festival in Barcelona as well as an official selection at international film festivals in Spain and Chile.

When I Rise,” which won two awards at Indianapolis International Film Festival and has been an official selection at 10 independent film festivals, tells the courageous story of Barbara Smith Conrad, an African-American music student who was expelled from the cast of an opera staged by The University of Texas at Austin and rose to international acclaim as an opera singer.

Mat Hames, director of “When I Rise,” will make a special appearance to speak with the audience after screening his film on the second night of the festival, Friday, Aug. 16.

Brasslands,” directed by Emmy-nominated Jay Arthur Sterrenburg, is the final feature film of the event and marks the first time that Lights. Camera. Help. has solicited a movie for the festival. Bramley explained that the intention was “to guarantee a really phenomenal film for closing night, one to get our audience energized and excited for the awards party.”

Meerkat Media Collective, the organization that produced “Brasslands,” will be in attendance to discuss the film after the screening. The film was an official selection at The Los Angeles Film Festival, Beldocs International Film Festival, San Antonio Film Festival, and was the winner at the Minneapoli-St. Paul Film Festival.

But the film festival offers much more than full-length documentaries. In the do-it-yourself spirit of Austin, Lights. Camera. Help. showcases great short films and micro-docs that get little attention from other film festivals. This year, a total of 15 short films and micro-docs were selected to be screened and compete for awards in their respective categories.

“Each format possesses its own challenges,” said Bramley. “With feature films, it’s tough to tell a story that keeps people engaged for a whole hour and a half, and with short films it’s tough to tell a whole story in such a short amount of time. We look for films that tell the full story whether it’s 5 minutes long or an hour and a half long.”

With the festival celebrating its fifth anniversary, Lights. Camera. Help. has established itself as the first and the best film festival exclusively for cause-driven films. Being chosen as a final selection means a lot to the various causes and nonprofits they are affiliated with, because it puts their stories on a bigger stage and shines an artistic spotlight on their causes.

“A lot of the films we show don’t get the attention they deserve,” Bramley said. “They’re subject to being pushed to the corner of the Internet somewhere. But when you take these films and put them up on a cinema screen and give them that complete focus in a darkened room, they have so much more impact. We’re giving organizations and causes exposure they’d never receive before.

The festival culminates with an awards party on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 6:30 p.m.—11 p.m. A panel of judges will select the best films from each category and cash prizes will be awarded to the nonprofit, NGO, or not-for-profit organization affiliated with the films. Official selections were made through a private selection committee who judged the films based on a film’s cinematography and sound, and its ability to motivate viewers to take action, donate, volunteer, or otherwise make the world a better place.

An all-access badge for $70 provides admission to all festival events, including dinner and a drink at each night’s screening and the awards party on closing night. Admission to a single night festival screening costs $25-$30, and a ticket solely for the awards party Saturday evening costs $20.

“The festival itself is a big fundraiser for the cause-driven mission and the films that do the best job of telling their stories through film,” said Dave Junker, a lecturer in the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin, whose classes have volunteered with Lights. Camera. Help. for the past five years. “You can make a difference simply by buying a ticket and attending, and there’s no extra charge for getting inspired and entertained at the same time.”

Lights. Camera. Help. is a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging other nonprofit and cause-driven organizations to use film and video to tell their stories. We do this through our education program (Learn with LCH), the Reel Change Film Frenzy and our annual Lights. Camera. Help. film festival. To learn more about the Lights. Camera. Help. and the annual film festival, visit


Tweets and Social Media Posts

  • Lights. Camera. Help. announces finalists for 2013 nonprofit film festival.
  • The finalists for the Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival are “A Film About Kids and Music: Sant Andreu Jazz Band”; “When I Rise”; and “Brasslands.”
  • Q&A with Mat Hames, director of acclaimed “When I Rise,” about University of Texas student who overcomes racism to become opera star
  • Q&A with directors of “Brasslands” on closing night
  • A total of 18 films in the categories of short films, micro documentaries and feature length films to be screened

Boilerplate for “About” section:

Lights. Camera. Help. is a nonprofit from Austin, Texas, which encourages other nonprofit and cause-driven organizations to tell their stories through film and video. The Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival is the first film festival exclusively for nonprofit and cause-driven organizations.

The festival selects the best cause-driven films from around the world to be screened over a three-day span. Each video is selected for its ability to motivate people to take action and make the world a better place. Winners are chosen for best short film, micro-documentary and feature-length film. Winners receive cash prizes that go directly to the cause represented in their film.