Calling All Up-and-Coming Filmmakers and Austen Fans!

Meghan Hanet, 2021 first-place winner for her short, “Lizzy’s Adventures in Online Dating”

JASNA Southwest launched an annual Young Filmmakers Contest in 2017, as part of hosting JASNA’s Annual General Meeting, which attracts hundreds of attendees from across the country.

Originally open to high school, college undergraduate and graduate students from throughout North America, eligibility to all amateur filmmakers under the age of 30 beginning in 2020. We award cash prizes and a year’s membership in JASNA to all winning entries.

The 2021 finalists (and all past winners) can be viewed on JASNA Southwest’s YouTube channel. Watch the 2021 finalists’ playlist now.

The 2022 Young Filmmakers Contest is now open to all amateur filmmakers under the age of 30. Deadline for submissions is September 15, 2022. Download the 2022 contest flyer or entry form

Have Imagination and a Video Camera?

Are you an aspiring Ava DuVernay or Steven Spielberg? Do you know a talented high school, undergrad or graduate student who is? Or any aspiring filmmaker or Austen fan under the age of 30? Enter, or help spread the word about, our sixth annual Young Filmmakers Contest.

Sponsored by JASNA Southwest, the contest is open to all North American amateur filmmakers under the age of 30. The contest is designed to encourage study, interpretation of and appreciation for Jane Austen among new generations.

Films must be five minutes or less and should be adapted from, or inspired by, Jane Austen’s writing or life. Past entries have included animated films, documentaries, modernizations and tributes to Austen’s genius. They’ve ranged from heart-tugging stories to hilarious adventures, and everything in between. All you need is your imagination and a smart phone.

Cash prizes are awarded: $250 for first place, $100 for second place and $50 for third place. Winners also receive a year’s membership in the Jane Austen Society of North America. Winning films will also be screened for a global audience on our YouTube channel and at the JASNA Annual General Meeting.

Entries are due by September 15, 2022. Download our 2022 Young Filmmakers Contest entry form for additional information.


The winning submissions from our 2021 contest are now live on JASNA Southwest’s YouTube channel. Watch the playlist of finalists (as shown at the screening event at the Chicago AGM) or any of the individual films:
“Lizzy’s Adventures in Online Dating” by Meghan Hanet (first place)

“I Had Price, I Had Prejudice” by Jordan Sartor-Francis (second place)

“Strength and Vulnerability” by Talitha Moniz McMillion (third place)

“Persuasion” by Zoë Hodge (honorable mention)

“Pride” by Charlotte Balogh

“The Austen Avenger” by Leah Madsen

Contestants entered from all over North America, including British Columbia, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Winners receive cash prizes and a year’s membership in JASNA.

Meghan Hanet of “Lizzy’s Adventures in Online Dating”

Talitha Moniz McMillion, creator of “Strength and Vulnerability”

Aspiring filmmaker Jordan Sartor-Francis

Zoë Hodge’s film “Persuasion”


The winning submissions from our 2020 contest are now live on JASNA Southwest’s YouTube channel. You can watch or rewatch the full event in which the winners premiered, the playlist of winners (as shown at the event) or any of the individual films:
“Morland and Mishaps” by Courtney Birnbaum (third place, 20+)
“Letters to Cassandra” by Sajween Khan (third place, under 20)
“A Certain Step Towards Falling in Love” by Ellie Cagle (second place, under 20)
“A Letter to Jane” by Lydia Smith (second place, 20+)
“Handsome, Clever and Rich” by Thomas Fitzgerald (first place, under 20)
“Jane Austen Virtual Book Club” by Jillian Davis and Yolanda Rodriguez (first place, 20+)
Courtney Birnbaum shared a link to the concept for her series based on Northanger Abbey.
The chat from the event is also available on our website.

Winners and contestants entered from all over the United States, including California, Florida, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas. 

Jillian Davis and Yolanda Rodriguez won first place in the over-20 category for their film, “Jane Austen Virtual Book Club.”

High school senior Elliot Cagle won second place in the under-20 category for her film, “A Certain Step Towards Falling in Love.”

High school junior Thomas Fitzgerald won first place in the under-20 category for his entry, “Handsome, Clever and Rich.”

Courtney Birnbaum won third place in the over-20 category for her film, “Morland and Mishaps.”

Lydia Smith won second place in the over-20 category for her film, “A Letter to Jane” (with cinematography by David Pearson).

College freshman Sajween Khan won third place in the under-20 category for her entry, “Letters to Cassandra.”

Top row: Ashley Clements, Thomas Rigler, Kenneth Turan

Bottom row: Laurie Viera Rigler, Robin Swicord, Aydrea Walden

Judges for the 2020 annual Young Filmmakers Contest were:
  • Ashley Clements of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, who is starring in and producing A Tale Told by an Idiot, a modern adaptation of Macbeth 
  • Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and its sequel, and creator of the Babelgum web series Sex and the Austen Girl
  • Thomas Rigler, Emmy-winning director, executive producer and showrunner 
  • Robin Swicord, director and screenwriter of The Jane Austen Book Club
  • Kenneth Turan, longtime (recently retired) film critic for the Los Angeles Times
  • Aydrea Walden, writer/producer/actor and creator of the Webby-nominated Black Girl in a Big Dress 


Ellyn Cardon, a senior undergraduate at Brigham Young University, won the 2018 Young Filmmaker Contest for her entry, Mrs. Bennet’s Plan. Both she and her mother, Dana — the inspiration for Mrs. Bennet in the short film — attended JASNA Southwest’s December 2018 meeting at Sony, where the winning entry had its world premiere. Cardon intends to pursue a master’s degree in ethnographic filmmaking, which she says is appropriate since this film is practically an ethnography of her life.

Ellyn Cardon addresses the crowd at Sony Pictures Studio.

Screening “Mrs. Bennet’s Plan” at Sony Pictures Studio.


Second-place winner Katiana Bennett (with her father, Andrew Bennett) and first-place winner Rivkah Penarelli and her husband, Jason Penarelli, with inaugural contest chair Susie Wampler at the 2017 AGM in Huntington Beach

View the winners of our inaugural 2017 JASNA-Southwest Young Filmmakers Contest.

First place: An Accomplished Woman by Rivkah Penarelli

Second place (tie): I Am Jane Austen by Margaret Lu

Second place (tie): Timeless by Katiana Bennett

Third place: Novelist Jane Austen: Inside the Wardrobe by Elizabeth Hayes

First-place winner Rivkah Penarelli had the opportunity to chat with filmmaker Whit Stillman at the 2017 AGM.