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Daddying Film Fest and Forum Pulls Back Curtain to Spotlight VIP Judges and Judging Process

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

By Scott Beller

Daddying blog Editor and D3F Director of Communications

As many of you already know, this week, we officially opened the 2023 Daddying Film Festival & Forum's (D3F) call for entries. As 1st grade through undergrad students, dads/dad figures, and other indie filmmakers around the U.S. and world prepare to submit their daddying films by April 1, we thought it might be worthwhile to give them a quick peek behind the scenes and introduce some of our industry expert judges who will select D3F finalists from films that are make it through a preliminary round of cuts by jurors.

Meet the D3F Expert Judges

For last year's inaugural Daddying Film Festival, we recruited a panel of five judges with vast experience in the film industry and academia. Thus far, we have confirmed 3 judges returning to our VIP panel and one newcomer. In addition to returning judges Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member Fredda Weiss, educator and media literacy advocate Carol Darcy, and National Gallery of Art Head of Film Margaret Parsons, we have welcomed filmmaker and animator Pablo Estrada to the fold. You may remember Pablo as our 2022 college undergraduate Atticus Award winner for his animated short film Pater et Filio.

Pablo enjoyed his DFF experience so much that he's graciously volunteered to stay involved with the Festival in 2023 by serving as a VIP judge. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pablo studied Image and Sound Design at the University of Buenos Aires before continuing his animation studies in Canada. He's worked with Le Cube studios (Buenos Aires), Guru Studios (Toronto), and Pipeline Studios (Hamilton). He now lives in Oakville, Ontario, and is working with Pipeline on a new PBS cartoon series.

Stay tuned for regular updates as we continue to build our VIP panel of judges.

Our D3F Jurors and the Judging Process

The first hurdle films submitted to D3F must clear is whether or not they relate to one of the Festival's themes:

  1. A letter to my father/A letter to my daughter/son

  2. The most joyful/fun thing I ever did or wish I could do with my father and/or daughter/son

  3. If I could make one wish come true for my dad and/or son/daughter it would be...

If the film does indeed represent one of those daddying themes, submissions are then assigned to and narrowed by our student and adult preliminary jurors, who have been recruited from around the U.S. and trained in evaluating films by KIDS FIRST! and DADvocacy Consulting Group staff. Student jurors range from fourth grade through high school (the same grade levels represented in student film/video submissions they evaluate). The criteria jurors use to evaluate each film submission are reflected in D3F's mission to:

  • Shine a spotlight on the importance of dads in their presence and in their absence.

  • Provide opportunities for kids and fathers alike to reflect upon and express feelings about what daddying qualities are most important to them; what kind of dad a father wants to be, and what kind of dad a kid wants and needs.

  • Provide opportunities for emotional authenticity, creativity, and originality.

  • Portray a variety of family dynamics in order to explore and encourage constructive relationships.

  • Demonstrate film- and/or video-making skills and production values.

Selecting Our Atticus Award Finalists

D3F student, father/dad figure, and other indie filmmaker finalists are selected by our VIP judges, who are experts in the entertainment industry, arts, and academia. Judges will select up to five finalists in each of seven voting categories:

  1. 1st through 4th grade (elementary school)

  2. 5th through 8th (middle school)

  3. 9th through 12th (high school)

  4. College/university (undergraduate)

  5. Best Feature Film (students, dads, and other indie filmmakers)

  6. Best Short Film (students, dads, and other indie filmmakers)

  7. Best Dad/Dad Figure Film, aka, The Roy R. Neuberger Prize

The coveted Atticus statuette, circa June 2022

What's at Stake?

All D3F student finalists earn a $250 award for use toward an activity or project to enjoy with their dad/dad figure. All D3F winners, including dads and non-student indie filmmakers, earn an “Atticus,” a statuette symbolizing Atticus Finch from the 1962 film based on Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird. Finch, an iconic single dad, represents several ideal daddying qualities. Student Atticus winners also earn an additional scholarship to advance their studies or create a project encouraging positive dad involvement.

New this year, the best film submitted by a Dad will earn a special award, the Roy R. Neuberger Prize, and $500 to use toward an activity or project with their child(ren). Voting to determine the six Atticus Award and Neuberger Prize winners will be open to the public/D3F attendees and will be conducted online during Festival Week (June 4-11). Awards will be presented to winners during a virtual ceremony on Sunday, June 11, 2023.

Now that you have a better idea how our judges and jurors evaluate D3F submissions and what filmmakers stand to gain if their films make the cut, get creative and send us your short videos/films, kids and dads/dad figures. Other indie filmmakers can even send us feature-length movies. You have until April Fool's Day to get them in. We can't wait to hear your daddying stories!

With D3F's expansion in 2023, we're looking to add more student and adult preliminary jurors! If you'd like to become a D3F juror and are interested in learning more about the training process, we'd love to hear from you! Please CONTACT US for more information and include "D3F juror inquiry" in the subject line of your email.

MST3K gang in silhouette watching Godzilla movie
Scott's headshot gets the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment

Scott Beller is the proud, imperfect dad of two mighty girls, Morgan and Lauren, imperfect husband of rock-star mom, Elisabeth, avid fan of horror, sci-fi, and incredibly weird cinema, Editor of the Daddying blog, and Director of Communications for DCG and D3F. He's a seasoned writer and PR agency veteran with more than 30 years of experience helping organizations of all sizes reach audiences and tell their stories. Prior to launching his own creative communications consultancy in 2003, he led PR teams with some of the world’s most respected agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and The Weber Group. As a consultant, he’s helped launch two other parenting advocacy nonprofits with DCG founder Allan Shedlin. His first book, Beggars or Angels, was a ghostwritten memoir for the nonprofit Devotion to Children's founder Rosemary Tran Lauer. He was formerly known as "Imperfect Dad" and Head Writer for the Raising Nerd blog, which supported parents in inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers, and creative problem solvers. He earned his BA in Communications from VA Tech.


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