Britt Penrod Award Winners

About the Britt Penrod Award

The award will be presented to one or more finalists to one of our four yearly Roy W. Dean Grants whose film is unique and makes an exceptional contribution to society.  The Britt Penrod Award was made possible by a donation from its namesake who is a longtime friend of 501(c)3 non-profit From the Heart Production.  Results of the award have no bearing on the eventual winner of any of the Roy W. Dean Grants.

About Britt Penrod

Britt is president of Giant Entertainment & Management Inc. (G.E.M.) is a Los Angeles based Film & Television Studio design and development company with in depth experience in the United States, Europe and Asia.

G.E.M. delivers knowledgeable business foundations to Studio development projects that include; Market Analysis, Site Planning, Operating Financial Evaluation, Construction, MEP & Value Engineering, Start-up of Operations and ongoing Management Services for stage-based entertainment properties.


Fall 2023

Finding Happy
by Maria Bertrand

“Finding Happy” is a heartfelt and uplifting feature-length documentary about survival, compassion, connection, hope and love, told through unlikely bonds formed between humans and animals.

On May 6th, 2020, isolation and fear were gripping the world during the worst days of the pandemic. Maria, whose life had just come crashing down around her, was out for a run when she spotted an injured one-day old sparrow laying in the middle of the street. She picked him up intending to help him, not realizing how much he would help her, and many others, around the world.

“Finding Happy” takes you into the complex and beautiful mind of one tiny sparrow who becomes a beacon of hope for his rescuer and millions around the globe, and who inspires a journey to explore other extraordinary bonds between humans and animals.

A whale a submarine and the sound in between
by Gail Blay

A whale a submarine and the sound in between will be a short stop motion animation film which is based on true events. It tells the story of a conflict between homeland security and the protection of the Deep Sea eco system, specifically on Beaked whales. It seems to be a regular night in the deep. However, as the whales start to surface, they encounter a massive sound wave (an active sonar pulse). This night changes the course of these whales and their entire ecosystem.

Summer 2022

I’m Still Here
by Andy Volk

“I’m Still Here” is a portrait of a formerly-homeless artist, capturing how the non-profit Art from the Streets helped them find community, creative expression, and self-determination while living on the street.

Andy intends that the film will be a portrait of the artist, encapsulating the many ways we view ourselves and each other. It will be the artist’s story. Their words, their feelings, their actions, captured to remind communities around the country that the homeless are still here, even if we see them or not.

Desert Angel
Produced & Directed by Séverine Tibi

For 25 years, Rafael Larraenza has risked his life along the US-Mexico border to rescue immigrants lost in the desert. But as the years catch up with him, he worries his next search-and-rescue mission could be his last.

Intimate and poetic, it’s a character study of a man driven to save others and willing to risk anything to do so.

While traversing the no man’s land during filming, there were times that Vincent felt a presence. Not a haunting but a connectedness, as if he was where he belonged.

Save the Wild Coast (Warship Off the Wild Coast)
Consultant Producer & Director Quinton Fredericks, Executive Producer Gary Janks

For centuries, the amaMpondo have bravely resisted invaders, protecting their natural world along the South African Wild Coast, to maintain a culture of conservation, where nature is sacred. This fight culminated in a David vs Goliath court case against oil giant Shell, where the indigenous community is succeeding in preserving their ocean connection and marine life from invasive deep sea blasting by Shell, while seizing the world’s attention.

An important film to safeguard the futures of our children, to save the Wild Coast and preserve our planet and mother nature from the catastrophic devastation of global warming, species and biodiversity loss that is still ongoing.


Christmas Dance
by Ping-Wen Wang

Christmas Dance is a 15-minute short fiction film about a lonely old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s who enters a dream world and meets her long lost family and friends on Christmas Eve. She must relive her most important memories with her daughter and let go of all her regrets before she forgets everything. The 15-min short film, currently in pre-production, is a PingWen’s graduate thesis project for Loyola Marymount University.

Christmas Dance is a personal journey inside an Alzheimer’s patient’s mind. Because the disease causes her to no longer remember who she is, her mind fights tirelessly to hold on to her memories. She enters a dream world where she can be herself and share one final dance with her daughter.

By telling a touching story between a mother and daughter, Wang attempts to draw public attention to the disease as well as comfort and honor Alzheimer’s patients and their families. While most films about Alzheimer’s tend to show the sadness and the cruel nature of the disease, Wang wants to bring hope to those involved. As Ella Chen, granddaughter to an Alzheimer’s patient, states in The Long Goodbye, “I don’t know how much my grandmother can remember, but I think they’re all the happiest memories”.

Short Film 2022

by Anne Hu

Currently in post-production, “Lunchbox” is a dramatic, three-part, coming-of-age short film about regret, healing, and honoring the people we love.  When a Taiwanese American woman prepares lunches from her childhood, she struggles to forgive herself for pushing away her immigrant mother. 

Based on a true story, this retelling examines the personal cost of fitting in as well as the recovery from cultural and familial loss.


Fall 2021

by Hasan Demirtas

Life in a Kurdish village in Eastern Turkey is routine for Grandfather Hamit. Every day for the last 5 years he visits his wife’s grave. Political problems force Hamit and the other villagers to leave their village. Grandfather Hamit and his son’s family want to go to Germany.


Summer 2021

The Bridge Ministry
by Christopher Farina

For over 20 years the Bridge Ministry has been transforming the lives of men dealing with life-threatening addiction issues by providing them with a residency in a camp where they are both taught productive job skills and are also provided with psychological and spiritual mentoring to alter their paths heading to incarceration. This film will present a portrait of this class to inspire and advocate for replicating this experience in communities across the country and beyond.

Interwoven throughout this film will be the inspiring story of the life of William Washington, founder of the Bridge Ministry. Having suffered serious trauma as a child, this led to him becoming a homeless teenager on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia as both a user and seller of deadly drugs. He was incarcerated more than once, and while eventually facing a long-term prison sentence, he was given a chance by Judge Jay Swett to enter a program which positively altered his life.

Uplifted by this experience, he dedicated his own life to helping others who faced the same troubled path that he had been on. This led to his creation of the Bridge Ministry along with the support of others including Judge Swett.


Spring 2021

26 Seconds
by Kelly Galindo

“26 Seconds” is a two-stage film project that reveals the global epidemic of child sex trafficking. The first stage is a two-hour feature documentary that is currently in post-production. The second stage is a dramatic documentary miniseries. Through a captivating journey across the world, Galindo reveals the ubiquity of the problem and the gravity of the damage sustained by this evil, destructive trade.

In intimate interviews, the audience gets a raw, often shocking glimpse into the lives of children and women in various cultures and regions. The interviews include vivid details of how each victim was captured or lured into the sex trade, the horrors of their captivity, and the commitment of each individual, non-profit organization, crisis intervention team, and law enforcement in the fight to eradicate global sex trafficking.

Director Kelly Galindo’s vision is to spread awareness and create a call to action by educating audiences and giving a voice to those who have been silenced. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing illegal industry in the world. There are more slaves today than any time in history.

For the past four years, she has produced and directed 26 Seconds; her mission of exposing these atrocities has taken her around the world. Kelly highlights the nonprofit organizations that have actively stepped forward to do something about it.

The 26 Seconds team is currently editing the feature documentary with three-time Emmy award winner, Mark Wilcken, as lead editor. The production will be making a strong push for top-tier film festivals, along with a PR campaign for the Academy Awards. Sid Ganis, the supervising producer for 26 Seconds, was the past president of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences; he also served as chairman of the Academy’s International Outreach Committee up to 2017. Prior to this, Ganis has been on the board of directors at Marvel Entertainment until its sale to Disney. His film career in marketing and publicity includes working at 20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Paramount Pictures.


Short Film 2021

The Fog Catcher
by Avi Kabir

The short film revolves around Jagah (14), from a rural drought-hit village in the state of Maharashtra (India), who is good at building and fixing things. The shortage of water in his village, a condition worsened by a monopoly over the scarce resource, sets into motion various pressing circumstances, at the heart of which is the need to comfort his younger sister Jugnu (9) by finding water for the plant where their mother’s ashes have been laid.


Previous Winners

Mary and Louise

by Abigail Zealey Bess

Mary and Louise is short narrative film, (RT:16:44), based on the fictional friendship of silent film goddesses, Mary Pickford, (Americas Sweetheart) and Louise Brooks (The Iconic Vamp). After the Talkie World explodes on the Hollywood scene, Mary and Louise find themselves suddenly out of work when they have a disastrous experience on the set of their first Talkie. With no job prospects in sight they decide to move in together to an apartment in Brooklyn. Seemingly stuck in her role as America’s sweetheart, and still living as though in a silent film, Mary’s resentment of Louise’s provocative antics goes politely unspoken until threatened with the loss of her one true love Mary must face her fears and expose the unused voice inside her if she is ever to get what she wants. A comedy with a twist, Mary and Louise explores the ups and downs of sisterhood and the challenge two women face finding their voices within the din of great personal and technological change.


Voices of Grief

by Kathy Sparnins

Grief is universal, affecting everyone in our communities as we each face the challenges of life transitions in a culture that wants to look the other way.

For those who have ever struggled in knowing what to say or do in the presence of profound loss—your own or someone else’s, the film, “Voices of Grief: Honoring the Sacred Journey” offers a hope-filled new perspective of how to successfully navigate grief, a common reality of the shared human experience.

This award-winning documentary film interweaves individuals’ personal stories of loss and healing together with the insight of nationally renowned experts in the fields of grief and mourning.

The film demonstrates that, while every journey through grief is unique, learning the most supportive things we can do and say is enormously helpful to the person grieving as well as the one who offers companioning.