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2015 Awards

Grand Prize

$500 Anthem Vault Certificates for
Best Original Score
Best Libertarian Values

2014 Awards

More than 1,000 viewers flocked to the Celebrity Ballroom at Planet Hollywood for the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival's opening night event, a sneak preview of Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? The final installment of the cinematic trilogy based on Ayn Rand's magnum opus was warmly received, and after the screening audience members enjoyed red-carpet photo opportunities with several cast members, including Kristoffer Polaha, who plays John Galt, and Dominic Daniel, who plays Eddie Willers.

Kristoffer Polaha (John Galt), Jo Ann Skousen (festival director)
and Harmon Kaslow (Atlas Shrugged producer) enjoy a moment on the red carpet

AS3, as it is affectionately called, won the Anthem award for Best Narrative Feature. In receiving the award, executive producer John Aglialoro commented wryly, "When I bought the rights to Atlas Shrugged I had mostly black hair!" Then he added pensively, "That was in August of 1992. I thought it would take a year or two to make the film. After all, it was one of the ten most influential books ever written. I thought after a year or two I would go to Valhalla, where Ayn Rand is buried, and say, 'Well, we did it!' But it didn't happen after a year or two, or three or four. So it is a great comfort in my soul that I will be able to go to her graveside now and say, 'We did it.' And hopefully she'll say-maybe I'll hear it in the wind or in the leaves of the trees-- 'Well done.'"

As they surveyed the vast audience already seated half an hour before the screening was scheduled to begin, Atlas Shrugged producer Harmon Kaslow congratulated Anthem's founding director Jo Ann Skousen on the rapid growth of the festival and foreshadowed Aglialoro's words. "We did it!" he exclaimed, recalling earlier seasons of the festival when Kaslow and Aglialoro brought clips and snippets to share with Anthem audiences and reported on their works in progress. Skousen agreed. "Anthem started four years ago in a 100-seat conference room, and now look at us: we're in the Celebrity Ballroom with over a thousand viewers!" Showing this major film was particularly significant for this festival, since Anthem takes its name from Ayn Rand's earlier novel, Anthem.

Dinesh D�Souza autographs books after a successful screening to over a thousand viewers.

An equally vast and eager crowd of more than 1,000 attendees returned to the Ballroom Friday night for the screening of America: Imagine the World Without Her, Dinesh D'Souza's new documentary that refutes what he calls "the shaming of America." In the film D'Souza acknowledges five areas in which America stands accused, including theft of land, life, and liberty from Native Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, economically under-privileged Americans, and foreign lands (through war and imperialism). The film then provides a broader historical perspective by imagining a world without America's positive influence, including ending slavery and giving most residents the chance to achieve the American Dream. The film met with enthusiastic approval from an audience that was often moved to tears of emotion. Viewers stayed for nearly an hour of Q & A with D'Souza, and then lined up to get autographed books and posters. America won the Anthem award for Best Documentary.

Enthusiastic audience waits to enter the theater.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

In between these two blockbuster films, Anthem audiences enjoyed over a dozen documentaries and narrative features in the comfortable 300-seat Sin City Theater, which was often close to capacity. In fact, at one point the line of viewers waiting to enter the theater snaked completely across the exhibit hall.

Co-producer of Poverty, Inc. Mark Weber and Acton Institute executive director Kris Mauren
have no idea that a hat trick is on the way.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

The FreedomFest Grand Prize was awarded to Poverty, Inc., which began its feedback tour at Anthem. This compelling documentary, sponsored by the Acton Institute, presents an eye-opening perspective on the unintended consequences of foreign aid and offers market solutions to world poverty. Philip Sansone, director of Whole Planet Foundation and a participant in the panel that followed the screening said of the film, "If I could make a movie about this topic, this is the one I would make.... This film will be required viewing for our entire Whole Planet team." In addition to winning the FreedomFest Grand Prize, Poverty, Inc. also won the Anthem award for Excellence in Filmmaking and the Audience Choice award with a 4.7 approval rating (on a scale of 5). Go to for more information.

John Stossel interviews Tim Delmastro about his film, Freedom from Choice,
which won the award for Best International Documentary.

Close on its heels as a candidate for the Grand Prize was Freedom from Choice, Tim Delmastro's fine film about Big Brother and the nanny state. Delmastro identifies several areas in which the government sticks its nose unnecessarily (and often detrimentally) into our business. It includes interviews with Peter Schiff and Jeff Berwick, who joined the panel after the screening to discuss the issues presented in the film. The film won the Anthem prize for Best International Documentary, and libertarian journalist John Stossel interviewed Delmastro during the Thursday evening taping of his tv show. (The Stossel FreedomFest show has become an annual event and can be seen on Fox Business and Fox News.)

FreedomFest Producer Mark Skousen greets Kristoffer Polaha (John Galt).
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Now beginning its fifth season, the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival is part of FreedomFest, an annual celebration of ideas that has been described as "the world's greatest gathering of free thinkers" and "Disneyland for the mind." With over 200 speakers, 2,000 attendees, and ten events going on at the same time, the hardest part is choosing what to attend. One film viewer said, "Film offers a better way of viewing important issues than just sitting in a lecture hall-I'm going to the movies!" Another said, "I signed up to buy the FreedomFest audio tapes so I could stay in the theater and watch all the films!"

Kels Goodman celebrates his win for Excellence in Filmmaking with his wife, Stephanie.

Filmmakers had a blast too. "It was awesome!" said Kels Goodman, director of The Last Eagle Scout. "I'm eager to come back next year-with a brand new film." Goodman reported making several important contacts with potential supporters during the festival. Nicole Greco, who directed 100 Signatures, called Anthem "one of the most dynamic and beneficial film festivals ever." She added, "We are honored to be here and find it encouraging to meet so many like-minded people."

Panelists Gary Alexander, Jeff Berwick, Peter Schiff and Doug Casey discuss Tim Delmatro's Freedom from Choice.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Awards host Chip Wood noted, "In the past several years, many things have grown at FreedomFest, but very few have grown in size, significance and popularity nearly as much as the Anthem Film Festival. It began as an idea of Jo Ann Skousen four years ago with some small, interesting presentations; this year she had literally thousands of people watching some fascinating independent films." Anthem is indeed bigger and better than ever. We can't wait to see what films are submitted next season.

Hayley Skousen bestows trophies at the Awards Banquet.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Here is the complete list of Anthem winners this year:

FreedomFest Grand Prize

Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller, director; Mark Weber, co-producer

Narrative Feature

Best Overall: Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? James Manera, director; John Aglialoro, executive producer

Excellence in Filmmaking: The Last Eagle Scout, Kels Goodman, director

Best Libertarian Ideals: Collapse, Dave McCormick, director

Documentary Feature

Best Overall: America: Imagine the World Without Her, Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan, directors; Gerald Molen, producer

Excellence in Filmmaking: Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller, director

Best Libertarian Ideals: Dog Days, Kasey Kirby and Laura Waters Hinson, directors

International Documentary

Best Overall: Freedom from Choice, Tim Delmastro, director

Excellence in Filmmaking: Exit, Klaus Erik Okstad, Olav Njaastad, Anders Somme, directors

Short Narrative

Best Overall: Cough, Jason Kempnich, director

Short Documentary

Best Overall: No Vans Land, Sean Malone, director

Excellence in Filmmaking: Don't Cage My Speech! A Student Schools his College, Ted Balaker, director

Best Libertarian Ideals: Before Snowden: Behind the Curtain, Bill and Tricia Owen, directors

Audience Choice Awards

Feature Length: Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller, director

Short: The Ticket: Stories of Choice in Education, Bob Bowdon, director


2013 Awards

Anthem director Jo Ann Skousen presents Cyrus Saidi with the FreedomFest Grand Prize for his short narrative, "L1ttl3 Br0th3r."

Anthem director Jo Ann Skousen presents Cyrus Saidi with the FreedomFest Grand Prize for his short narrative, "L1ttl3 Br0th3r.

First-time filmmaker Cyrus Saidi won the FreedomFest Grand Prize for 2013 with his short narrative "L1ttl3 Br0th3r," which tells the story of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who demonstrates extraordinary courage in order to reveal the evil nature of a totalitarian dictator. Big Brother is watching, we know...but so is Little Brother!

"This film is the perfect precursor to our theme for next year, 'Is Big Brother Here?'" said FreedomFest producer Mark Skousen in awarding the $2,500 prize to "L1ttl3 Br0th3r” for demonstrating excellence in filmmaking and libertarian ideals.

An immigrant from Iran who immigrated to Canada with his mother when he was ten, Saidi described America as a place of hope and participated in a panel on free speech at the festival. "This is a very unexpected honor," he admitted in accepting his prize. "As a Canadian-Iranian who really loves America—I will be moving here in about six months—being at this event for the last three days has made me really hopeful about the future of this country and the fact that there are people who really care about what I care about, which is freedom." We expect to see other important works from this fine filmmaker in the future.

Fred Smith (Competitive Enterprise Institute), Lawrence Reed (Foundation for Economic Education) and Drew Tidwell ("I, Pencil" producer) field questions about the magic of free markets after a packed screening of "I, Pencil."

Fred Smith (Competitive Enterprise Institute), Lawrence Reed (Foundation for Economic Education) and Drew Tidwell ("I, Pencil" producer) field questions about the magic of free markets after a packed screening of "I, Pencil."

Filmmakers Anna Zetchus Smith, Courtney Balaker, Janek Ambros, Reaves Washburn and MPI director Adam Guillette bond after their panel on the future of libertarian filmmaking."

Filmmakers Anna Zetchus Smith, Courtney Balaker, Janek Ambros, Reaves Washburn and MPI director Adam Guillette bond after their panel on the future of libertarian filmmaking."

Warren Coats, Joel Stern, Gene Epstein, and filmmaker Jim Bruce discuss the film "Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve."

Warren Coats, Joel Stern, Gene Epstein, and filmmaker Jim Bruce discuss the film "Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve."

The theatre at Planet Hollywood provided the perfect venue for Anthem this year, with comfortable seating for 250 people. Nevertheless, many of our documentaries hosted standing-room-only crowds as FreedomFest attendees thronged to watch the films. "I could go listen to someone talk about the same subject," one viewer said, "but in a film you can see a wide variety of people being interviewed, along with music, historical clips, and a great story arc." Many attendees watched every film at the festival.

One of our most popular films was a 7-minute documentary called "I, Pencil," based on the pamphlet of the same name written several decades ago by Leonard Read, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education. The pamphlet describes the process of making a pencil, demonstrating that no one person could make something as inexpensive and ubiquitous as that simple writing utensil. But through the magic of the free market, hundreds of people all over the world provide the rubber, graphite, cedar, aluminum, and machinery necessary to create a pencil that can be sold for a quarter. Using gorgeous graphics, the film brings this simple story to life for a new generation.

Most of our filmmakers participated in panels this year, with topics that included "The Erosion of Free Speech," "Laissez Faire Economics," "Inside the Federal Reserve," "The Unintended Costs of the War on Drugs," "What You Eat Can Cure and Prevent Cancer," and "The Future of Libertarian Filmmaking." Motion Picture Institute Director Adam Guillette provided a detailed, informative panel on "Advice from a Libertarian Film Producer" with MPI fellows Ted Balaker and Naomi Brockwell adding their advice. To purchase audio versions of these Anthem panels—or any of the speakers, debates, and general session events at FreedomFest—go to

And the winners are...

FreedomFest $2,500 Grand Prize

L1ttl3 Br0th3r, Cyrus Saidi, director

Feature Documentary

Jim Bruce, director of "Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve," accepts the award for Best Documentary Feature.

Jim Bruce

Best Overall:

Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve, Jim Bruce, director

Producers Maura Flynn and Evan Maloney look on as Andrew Marcus, director, accepts the award for "Hating Breitbart."

Maura Flynn, Evan Maloney, and Andrew Marcus

Excellence in Filmmaking:

Hating Breitbart, Andrew Marcus, director

Winning the award for Best Libertarian Ideals is Paul Feine, director of the feature documentary, "America`s Longest War."

Paul Feine

Best Libertarian Ideals:

America's Longest War, Paul Feine, director

Best International Documentary Feature

Post Lebanon, Lior Agur, director

Short Documentary

Newlyweds Drew Tidwell and Helen Straight accept the award for Best Short Documentary for "I, Pencil," directed by Nick Tucker.

Drew Tidwell and Helen Straight

Best Overall:

I, Pencil, Nick Tucker, director

Excellence in Filmmaking:

The Last Week: How Lawsuits Doomed an American Icon, Curtis Briggs, director

Best Libertarian Ideals:

Act of Terror, Gemma Atkinson and Fred Grace, directors

Short Narrative

Motion Picture Institute director Adam Guillette celebrates with Grand Prize Winner Cyrus Saidi.

Adam Guillette and Cyrus Saidi.

Best Overall:

L1ttl3 Br0th3r, Cyrus Saidi, director

Accepting the award for Excellence in Filmmaking is Reaves Washburn, director of the short narrative, "Knocked Down."

Reaves Washburn

Excellence in Filmmaking:

Knocked Down, Reaves Washburn, director

Janek Ambros, shown with his award for Best Libertarian Ideals for his short narrative, "Son of Man."

Janek Ambros

Best Libertarian Ideals:

Son of Man, Janek Ambros, director

Audience Choice Awards

Len Richmond, Director of "What if Cannabis Cured Cancer", accepts the Documentary Feature Audience Choice award.

Len Richmond

Documentary Feature:

What if Cannibas Cured Cancer, Len Richmond, director

Short Documentary:

I, Pencil, Nick Tucker, director

Short Narrative:

L1ttl3 Br0th3r, Cyrus Saidi, director

Honorable Mention

Documentary Feature, Libertarian Ideals:

Rebel Evolution, Anna Zetchus Smith, director

Short Narrative, Audience Choice:

The Pilgrim, Sean Buttimer, director

Following the awards ceremony, Anthem celebrants danced to the sounds of the Pink Flamingoes, an interactive band specializing in golden oldies and audience interaction, not only with great music but with beach balls in the air, bubble wrap on the floor, blow-up guitars on the stage, and even a volleyball net dividing the dance floor. As one filmmaker said with glee, "Where else can you play volleyball with Steve Forbes?" Anthem was the place to be July 10-13. Join us in Las Vegas July 9-13 for Anthem 2014 and another great line up of libertarian films.

2012 Awards

“The Afghan Nightmare” took the FreedomFest Grand Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking and Libertarian Ideals at the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival for its stunning cinematography, dramatic story arc, and powerful message. To make this documentary, director Klaus Erik Okstad spent four months embedded with the Norwegian army as they labored to prepare Afghan forces for the NATO troop withdrawal in 2014. This intense, eye-opening film demonstrates the futility of modern “nation building” warfare with cinematic skill and gripping storytelling.

Anthem’s films this year were outstanding. One judge said, “I wish we could give the award to every one of these documentaries!” Here are the awards in each category:

Documentary Feature

Best Overall: “Ayn Rand & The Prophecy of ‘Atlas Shrugged,’” directed by Chris Mortensen.

Excellence in Filmmaking: “An Inconsistent Truth,” directed by Shayne Edwards; written and produced by Phil Valentine.

Best Libertarian Ideals: “Nullification: The Rightful Remedy,” directed by Jason Rink.

Short Documentary

Excellence in Filmmaking: “Everything is Incredible,” directed by Tyler Bastien Trevor Hill, and Tim Skousen.

Best Libertarian Ideals: “Don’t Mess with ‘Firefly,’” directed by Ted Balaker.

Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Ted Balaker, director of "Don't Mess with 'Firefly'" accept the award for Best Libertarian Ideals in Short Documentary.

Short Narrative

Best Overall: “The Parachute Ball,” directed by Peter Boothby.

Excellence in Filmmaking: “Closing Bell,” directed by Janek Ambros.

Best Libertarian Ideals: “The Conversation,” directed by Courtney Balaker.

Anthem director Jo Ann Skousen presents the award for Best Libertarian Ideals to Courtney Balaker for her short narrative "The Conversation" --matching her husband's award for short documentary. This was an exciting and unexpected first husband/wife sweep for the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival!

The Film Festival was one of the most popular events at FreedomFest this year. Films were screened to standing room crowds who often lined the walls or sat on the floor, even after additional seating was added. One of the highlights was a preview of “Atlas Shrugged Part 2,” presented by producers Harmon Kaslow and John Agliarloro. Next year, when Anthem and FreedomFest move to Caesar’s Palace, we will have a larger screening room and even more enthusiastic audiences.

2011 Anthem Awards

Bob Bowdon accepts the award for Excellence in filmmaking at the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival

"The Cartel," a documentary that offers many innovative solutions to the problems in public education, won the prestigious PRI prize for excellence in filmmaking at the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival July 16. Director Bob Bowdon accepted the award, which includes a $2,500 cash prize, from Sally Pipes, CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. "We received many fine entries," Pipes said, "including four excellent films on education. 'The Cartel' was best." In his acceptance speech, Bowdon encouraged the audience of 700 FreedomFest and Anthem attendees to become actively involved in school choice. Pipes added, "We hope the PRI prize will encourage more filmmakers to develop projects that foster libertarian ideals."

"The Cartel" also won the Anthem award for Best Documentary, and "alleged" won the Anthem award for best narrative feature. Producer Frederick Foote accepted the award for "alleged." The awards were given at the Gala closing night banquet and Revolutionary Ball, which included dinner, dancing, a speech by Senator Rand Paul, and even costumes. FreedomFest founder Mark Skousen and Anthem Director Jo Ann Skousen appeared as Antony and Cleopatra, in fact. Next year's festival will be held at Bally's (in the Palace rooms near the Event Center on the ground floor) July 11-14, 2012.

Winners of the first annual Anthem Libertarian Film Festival Awards:

PRI Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking and Libertarian Ideals:

The Cartel, Bob Bowdon, director

Best Film:

Best Narrative Feature: "alleged," Tom Hines, director
Best Documentary Feature: "The Cartel," Bob Bowdon, director
Best Short Drama, "Bright," Benjamin Busch, director
Best Short Comedy, "Final Census," Shawn Monaghan, director
Best Short Documentary, "Gentle Men," Jesse Gibbons, director
Best International Narrative Feature, "Butterfly Crush," Alan Clay, director
Best International Documentary, "Overdose," Martin Borgs, director

Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking:

Narrative Feature: "Marathon," Biju Viswanath, director
Documentary Feature: "Cool It," Ondi Timoner, director
Short Drama: "Tyttonen," Fabian Giessler, director
Short Comedy: "Fairy Tale of London Town," Louis Neethling, director

Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals:

Narrative Feature: "Lady Magdalene's," J. Neil Schulman, director
Documentary Feature: "Indoctrinate U," Evan Coyne Maloney, director
Short Drama: "Threnody," Sean Buttimer, director
Short Comedy: "Et Miaow Alors," Adrian Westbrook, director
Short Documentary: "The Sea is a Harsh Mistress," Jason Sussberg, director

Grand Jury Special Presentation:

"Zero Percent," Tim Skousen, director

Audience Choice Awards:

Narrative Feature: "alleged," Tom Hines, director

Documentary Feature:

"Cool It," Ondi Timoner, director
"Zero Percent," Tim Skousen, director


"Bright," Benjamin Bush, director

Congratulations to all our filmmakers. We hope to see you at Anthem again, with more great films featuring self-reliant protagonists and espousing principles of individual liberty, choice and accountability. Audience reaction was universally positive--we appreciate all that you did to make the first annual Anthem Libertarian Flm Festival such a success.

July 8-11, 2015    |    Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas