Photo of the Roman Forum

Short Video Contest for Students: Adopt an Italian UNESCO site


The Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies housed in the Italian Program (Department of Spanish and Italian) at Montclair State University is pleased to announce a student video contest about Italy’s World Heritage. The country has the greatest number of UNESCO sites in the world, including Venice and its lagoon, Leonardo’s The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan, the volcano Etna, and Pompei along with other 47 sites for a total of 51, not including six intangible elements. This contest invites students to learn about one Italian UNESCO site, object, or tradition of their choice and to creatively illustrate it through an original audiovisual work that functions as an expression of celebration and protection towards this precious patrimony.


Premise: U.S. college students continue to choose Italy as their Study Abroad destination, making it the most popular among the foreign-language destinations. A good number of students who take Italian state that they are doing so in preparation for a trip to Italy. The country remains at the heart of the Grand Tour, i.e. the visit of the “Old Country” that has been considered a fundamental experience in a person’s cultural and aesthetic formation since the 1700s. Today, the lure of Italy stems in part from the fact that as a G7 country, it is a world leader in many economic sectors ranging from fashion to design – and food. Yet, Italy’s magnetic power continues to come primarily from its unparalleled heritage that includes monuments, artworks, archeological sites, entire historical centers, as well as environmental areas and even customs and traditions whose prestige and relevance is world-renowned. Much of this heritage is protected by the UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), an international institution whose mission includes the preservation of historic monuments, urban centers, and natural sites, along with traditional practices and contemporary art forms, that are deemed to be a source of identity, cohesion, knowledge, and vibrancy for societies.


  • The short video (from 30 seconds to 3 minutes in length) must focus on a UNESCO site that students can choose for themselves. Students can “adopt” an Italian UNESCO site in their video. Prior knowledge of the adopted site is not necessary: they can choose any site, whether they have visited this site in person and fallen in love with it; or heard about it through second-hand stories but never really dug into its history; or seen it in films, postcards, and ads. Prior knowledge of the site is not required.
  • The short video is expected to tell a story, i.e. follow a narrative, whether it is serious, funny, dramatic, ironic, etc. Students will research the site (see Resources 1 below*) and try to explain the meaning and relevance of the UNESCO site, and where applicable address the challenges attached to it. These sites are as fragile as they are precious, and the video should combine a message about preservation with one of appreciation. In this sense, students “adopt” a site in their video.
  • The short video can rely on any style or technique (see models under Resources 2 below**): a documentary if original film footage is available; a slide show with text and/or audio narration; an animated cartoon; a series of interviews and images; etc. Use of non-original materials must follow copyright regulations.

List of Research Sources:
Books addressing and films featuring UNESCO Sites in Italy (coming soon)

Eligibility: Students of Italian currently enrolled at Montclair State University and High Schools in New Jersey are eligible. In order to make sure that you are eligible, please send your CWID (if you are a student at Montclair State) or the email address of your current high school teacher to

Technical Specifications: Length: from 30 seconds to 3 minutes; Format: 16:9 Full HD; Maximum Size: 2GB

Submission method: For your submission, please click here and provide the required information including the link to your video on Vimeo, YouTube, etc. and the related password for private access.
For more information, please write to


  • Students of Italian, Communication and Media, and other fields, currently enrolled at Montclair State University (NB: Though students are welcome to do interdisciplinary work in partnership, collaborations are encouraged but not obligatory)
  • High school students of Italian in NJ

Jury: Videos will be judged by a distinguished panel that includes:
Claudio Napoli (Visual Effects Supervisor and Digital Artist)
Massimo Mascolo (Planning of David di Donatello, Italy’s Oscar Award)
Lise Raven (Filmmaker and Associate Professor School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University)
Beverly Peterson (Associate Professor School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University)
Jury Chairperson: Dr. Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair, Montclair State University)

The awards and related prizes: There will be a main award for each category. The jury may add special mention recognitions for each category depending on the nature of the submissions, for either style or concept. Except for the round-trip airfare prizes will be assigned depending on the nature of the submission (ex: group work).

Prizes include:
Winning project for the Montclair State University Student Category: Round-trip airfare to Italy(not exceeding the cost of $1,000*, 2 tickets in case of a video produced in collaboration by two students).
Winning project for the High School Student Category: Gift box, in kind donation by Eataly, NYC.
Further prizes: Gadgets generously offered by Cinecittà Film Studios, a set of Italian books kindly donated by Rizzoli New York.
Preference will be given to collaborative works across disciplines but solo projects are more than welcome.

‌ ‌‌‌ ‌
* All other expenses associated with the trip are the responsibility of the winner unless the cost of of the flight is less than $1,000: in that case, lodging expenses can be covered fully or partially up to that maximum cost of $1,000, including both flight and hotel. The trip has to take place by Summer 2018 at the latest. For details about booking the flight/hotel, contact

The jury reserves the right to withhold any prize should the required standard not be achieved.
Winners will be announced by the end of December 2016.

On Wed. Sept. 28, Video and Cinema experts Massimo Mascolo and Claudio Napoli have given a mixer and workshop in order to provide students with models, targeted feedback and tools on the creation of video works.

The project is aimed to reinforce the awareness of the importance of preserving international cultural heritage, in particular in geographical areas in crisis. This exhibition is part of “Protecting our Heritage,” a focal topic for the Washington cluster of EUNIC (the European Union National Institutes of Culture). EUNIC considers heritage as a source of identity, learning, and inspiration for present and future generations.

* Resources 1
UNESCO: Official Website and List of sites in Italy

** Resources 2
Slideshow with audio narration
Documentary with original footage, interviews, text
Video made up of film excerpts
Animated cartoon

Resources 3
A Journey to Italy video
A Journey to Italy Inserra event’s page
What Was the Grand Tour? form the J. Paul Getty Trust website
Viaggio in Italia (Journey to Italy) by Roberto Rosselini (1954)
Periscope (an app that, through Twitter, allows you to post and watch short videos)
36 Hours in in the Amalfi Coast, New York Times (April 22, 2016)
36 Hours in Bologna, New York Times (Sept. 30, 2015)
36 Hours in Rome, New York Times (March 4, 2015)
36 Hours in Milan, New York Times (Jan. 7, 2015)
36 Hours in Florence, New York Times (Sept. 24, 2014)
Roman Holiday by William Wyler, with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn (1953)
Wikipedia list of movies set in Venice
Video produced by the The Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism
Italy: The Extraordinary Commonplace video produced by the Italian Trade Agency
The Extraordinary Italian Taste
World Film Locations: Rome (book)
Panorama (website)
Parigi e Roma a Confronto, Altervista
Davids Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the Worlds Most Perfect Statue, New York Times (Aug. 17, 2016)
Can We Save Venice Before It’s Too Late?, New York Times (Aug. 29, 2016)
Youth on the March to Save Venice, i-Italy (Sept. 11, 2016)
Exhibition of Photographs “The Day Memory Dissolved” by Italian photographer and archaeological activist Massimiliano Gatti, Italian Academy in New York, October 18 to November 16, 2016.

This contest is sponsored in collaboration with the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE) of New York and the Italian National Tourist Board(ENIT).