Mayor Vincent Gray and SnagFilms Founder Ted Leonsis Honor Student Film

January 30, 2012

Gary Hahn, SnagFilms
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Leslie Green, D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development
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SnagFilms and the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development Announce Winner of Washington's Best Film Competition

George Washington University Student Film Released to Life Named Best Film by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and SnagFilms Founder and Chairman Ted Leonsis

Washington D.C. – SnagFilms and the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development announced the winner of Washington's Best Film competition today at an event at George Washington University. Student film Released for Life, produced by students attending The Documentary Center at George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs was named Best Film by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and SnagFilms founder and chairman Ted Leonsis. Steve Knapp, President of George Washington University, was also present for the award ceremony and screening of the film.

Washington's first-ever Best Film competition was created to celebrate Washington D.C.'s talented filmmakers and find original, diverse storytellers who display the spirit and quality that D.C.-based SnagFilms seeks out in all the films it showcases on its digital network. Above all, the competition was looking for dynamic stories focused on improving the world around us. Participating filmmakers had to be residents of Washington D.C. or have a production company based within the District.

The winning film, Released to Life, tells several powerful stories of people returning home after incarceration. With the shadow of past convictions continuing to follow them, these recently released, D.C. based ex-offenders struggle to redefine themselves in a society that they no longer know.

"This contest is the first of many that will highlight the incredible talent that exists here in our nation's capital," stated Mayor Vincent C. Gray. "I congratulate these extraordinary young filmmakers on successfully tackling such an important topic and being a shining example for budding filmmakers all over the District."

The student filmmakers who produced the film at The Documentary Center of The George Washington University were: Jason Wilder Evans, Jatryce Jackson, Kripa Koshy, Yavar Moghimi, Hua "Lily" Qin, Erika Rydberg, Rebecca Taylor and Greg Upwall. Nina Seavey is director of The Documentary Center.

"SnagFilms joins the Mayor and the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development in congratulating these young filmmakers, and The George Washington University, on having produced such an outstanding and important film," stated SnagFilms' founder and chairman Ted Leonsis. "We are proud to showcase Released to Life on the SnagFilms digital network and shine a light on such a critical issue for our city and country. We hope the SnagFilms audience will watch this film, share it with others and be inspired to take action. It's what we call 'filmanthropy,' and this film is a wonderful example of how 'filmanthropy' can engage our community and change our world."

The film will debut on SnagFilms today, and be available on demand, for free, worldwide. The film will soon be available on mobile devices via SnagFilms mobile apps for iPad, Android tablets, Kindle Fire and Android smartphones.

"This is the greatest honor a first time filmmaker could want for their film! Not only is our film available to everyone online, but also the D.C. mayor and local legislators will be watching the film and taking the message back with them to City Hall," said Yavar Moghimi, who produced the film along with his classmates as part of the 2010 GW Institute for Documentary Filmmaking. "We all went into documentary filmmaking because of its power to tackle tough social issues and inspire change. This recognition will help spread the film's ultimate message: that incarcerated people are transitioning back into society more than ever and we need to make sure they are prepared for the struggles that await them."

About SnagFilms

SnagFilms features free, sponsor-supported, on demand viewing of more than 3,000 award-winning, fiction and non-fiction titles from some of the greatest names in film. SnagFilms' curated collection is viewed on its own site and a digital network of more than 110,000 affiliated sites and webpages worldwide, including partners such as Comcast's, Hulu, the Starbucks Digital Network, IMDb, AOL/Huffington Post, hundreds of non-profits, special interest sites and blogs — and via its applications for tablets, including Apple's iPad (AirPlay-enabled), Amazon's Kindle Fire, Blackberry Playbook and other Android-based tablets; Android smartphones; OTT platforms Roku, Boxee; and Western Digital, connected TV and blu-ray players from Sony and Panasonic, and soon to launch on connected devices from Samsung and Vizio. SnagFilms' titles have been featured on more than 3.5 billion pageviews across its network.

SnagFilms also offers selected titles via pay video on demand with Comcast and FiOS, as well as on iTunes, Hulu Plus, Amazon, YouTube Movies, and will soon be launching on DIRECTV and digital streaming providers VUDU, Samsung Media Hub and XBOX Live. SnagFilms was recently named one of the fastest growing technology companies in Washington, DC area. Gizmodo has named SnagFilms as a "Best iPad App," OVGuide has twice named SnagFilms a Top Site, and MovieMaker Magazine named SnagFilms to its annual list of "50 Best Websites for Moviemakers." The SnagFilms family also includes indieWIRE, for more than 15 years the web's top source of news, reviews and information about independent film.

About the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development

The District of Columbia Office of Motion Picture and Television Development is responsible for initiating and managing programs aimed at generating revenue and stimulating employment and business opportunities in the District through the production of film, television, video, photography and other multimedia projects. Washington, D.C.'s instantly recognizable landmarks, diverse neighborhoods, cultural amenities, and first-class accommodations are just some of the many features that make the District of Columbia a venue of choice for motion picture and television production. A film-friendly city with the resources to accommodate any size production, Washington, D.C. continues to draw feature and independent films, television, documentaries, commercials, and other video and multimedia projects. For more information, contact the Office of Motion Picture and Television Development at (202) 727-6608, visit us on the web at, join the D.C. Film community on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

About The Documentary Center at The George Washington University

For over 20 years, The Documentary Center at The George Washington University has been committed to teaching documentary production and creating award-winning films for international audiences. Named one of the top ten schools for documentary filmmaking, it is one of the few U.S. educational centers that focuses exclusively on non-fiction film. The Documentary Center is housed in the School of Media and Public Affairs.

To learn more about The Documentary Center, visit To learn more about GW's School of Media and Public Affairs, visit or follow SMPA on Twitter.

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