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Embassy News 2009

Department of State launches Video Contest to Promote Dialogue on Democracy

January 2, 2009

The video must be sent before midnight of January 31, 2009

The video can not be longer than 3 minutes and must be sent before midnight of January 31, 2009, to the website:

International Contest

Name: Democracy Video Challenge

Challenge: Create a video short that completes the phrase "Democracy is..."

The Prize

  • An all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., New York and Hollywood.
  • A screening of the winning videos.
  • Exposure to filmmakers and the U.S. film and television industry.
  • Meetings with democracy advocates from government, the media and civil society.

The Timeline

  • Challenge semifinalists will be selected in February -- March 2009.
  • An independent jury will narrow down the semifinalists to 21 finalists: April -- mid-May 2009.
  • The general public will vote online for the winning videos mid-May -- mid-June 2009.
  • Seven winners - one each from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Middle East/North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific and one anonymous winner will be announced mid-June 2009.
  • The grand prize winners will travel to the United States to claim their prize in October 2009.

The Details

  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Videos can be any style: fiction or documentary, animated or live action.
  • Videos cannot be longer than three minutes.
  • Videos must be in English or have English subtitles.
  • Contestants may enter anonymously, but anonymous winners cannot collect the grand prize.
  • See contest site for a complete list of rules,

The Democracy Video Challenge, a global call to action celebrating democracy, was launched by the U.S. Department of State on September 15, during the the International Democracy Day at the United Nations. The Challenge invites citizens from around the world to create short videos that complete the phrase: "Democracy is..." in an effort to enhance the global dialogue on democracy.

The Democracy Video Challenge is a new effort supported by a unique partnership comprised of democracy and youth organizations, the film and entertainment industry, academia, and the U.S. government.

Richard Engel, NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, served as Master of Ceremonies for the contest’s global launch. (Partners represented at the launch are listed below.) "Film is a window into our common humanity - the challenges and joys that make up the universal human experience - no matter what language we speak or where we were born.

The young filmmakers taking part in this challenge will harness the magic of this powerful art form to connect to people around the world in a global discussion on democracy," said Michael Apted, President of the Directors Guild of America, a partner in the Democracy Video Challenge.

The Challenge will honor seven winning videos: one each from Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Near East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Western Hemisphere, and one anonymous video. The winning videos will be selected by global online voting. The video platform is being provided by YouTube (

“The Challenge breaks fresh ground for the use of new media in public diplomacy. We in the State Department and our partners are not trying to define democracy for young people around the world. Rather, the Challenge asks participants to share their visions of what democracy means. If the Challenge can generate thought and debate about democracy, on the medium of choice for young people, we’ll have achieved success,” Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman said.

The winners will participate in screenings of their videos in Hollywood, New York, and Washington, D.C., hosted by the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association of America. In New York and Hollywood, the winners will spend time on TV/film sets, and will meet with directors, film technicians, professional talent agents, and new media experts. They will also receive tickets to the Universal Studios theme park in Los Angeles. In Washington, D.C., the winners will meet with democracy advocates, the media, and U.S. government officials.

Democracy Video Challenge Partners include: the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Youth Foundation (IYF), the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), NBC Universal, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, TakingITGlobal, USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and the U.S. Department of State.