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Award Winner

Festival Season:

May 2024

On the Brink: The Battle for Democracy

On the Brink: The Battle for Democracy




Zidaan Kapoor

Run Time:


Awarded for the following Category(s):

Awarded Category(s)

In February of 2024, Alexei Navalny died under mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison. His death put the world on notice. Navalny's death is not the only evidence of autocracies like Russia and China destroying lives and wrecking the sovereignty of countries around the world. Across the globe, democracy is declining and autocracy is taking its place. 

On the Brink chronicles the devastating effects of autocratic regimes across the globe and highlights the courageous activists and resistance movements that are fighting for the future of our world. Leading experts on democracy including Dr. Larry Diamond at Stanford University and Dr. Nadia Oweidat at the Wilson Center discuss the harrowing political state of our world and the steps we can take to reverse this trend.

Submitter Statement

I first became interested in the decline of democracy and rise of autocracy just after the heights of the COVID pandemic began to secede. Russia had invaded Ukraine, Navalny had just been jailed, and China seemed ever closer to invading Taiwan. The rise of autocracy began to really pull at the headlines then, but the overall trend behind these incidents were hardly covered at all. Existential threats to the globe like climate change were known everywhere, but the simple threat of autocratic regimes imposing their will across the globe wasn't. On February 16th, 2024, Alexei Navalny was likely killed by Putin's autocratic regime. This news was shattering, and the public's interest in this pressing issue began to grow. 

I decided to make this film to raise awareness about the rise of autocracy and the deadly dangers that come with it, not just for freedom fighters but for innocent people as well. My goal for the film is to spread the message of autocracy's rise to facilitate global change.

Zidaan Kapoor (he/him) is a seventeen-year-old award-winning filmmaker who believes in the power of storytelling to change hearts, minds, and the world. Zidaan is the director of the BraveMaker Student Film Festival, a festival centered around youth representation, justice, and diversity. His documentary short "Back to India: An Immigrant Story" has been selected as an official selection for the 2023 BRAVEMAKER Film Festival and an official finalist by the 2023 Clout Film Festival. 

Zidaan has received recognition as one of "20 Under 20" amazing young people to watch by Diversity in Action magazine. He is also a member of the inaugural class of 16 Under 16 STEM Achievers and is a Rise Global Finalist, an initiative of Schmidt Futures and the Rhodes Trust. Additionally, he is a classical violinist and composer and has performed twice at Carnegie Hall.

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