Published: Jan. 22, 2021

New competition encourages students to create videos reflecting on the multifaceted year that was

This past year was historic in many ways and for many reasons. No one had the same year, so the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado Boulder wants to recognize those different experiences through a new video competition.

This new award competition, part of the annual Thompson Writing Awards and titled, “2020 Through My Lens,” encourages undergraduate and graduate students to reflect and create video stories of their experience with this notable year through the topic or medium of their choosing.

The awards are now open until March 15. 

“We created the video category because we wanted to give students a creative opportunity to reflect on how they navigated what was, by any measure, a remarkably tumultuous year,” said Kurt Gutjahr, the center’s managing director. 

“We want to know what students think and feel about it all.”

The Thompson Writing Awards, endowed by Jack (Hist’64) and Jeannie (Zool’64) Thompson in 2004, are given out every year to undergraduate and graduate CU Boulder students to recognize their writing related to the American West.

With the exception of the video category, that is still the case. In 2021, there will be 10 $500 prizes awarded to the writing competition in the genres of poetry, fiction, memoir, academic nonfiction and creative nonfiction. Students may apply to one or all of the categories using works they created for class or on their own—as long as the pieces are about the American West.

For the video category, though, the center welcomes any and all videos related to 2020, whether they be about the isolation, protests, pandemic, election or even just some small slice of everyday life. These videos can also come in any genre, whether that be documentary, commentary, visual images, narrative or even musical performance. This award also comes with a $500 prize.

“The palette is vast,” commented Gutjahr.

Learn more about the award, including rules and how to submit for both the writing and video competitions, on the Center of the American West’s website.