In March, I was invited to Poland, where I was part of an exciting two-day New Media/New Democracy Forum. The forum, organized by the US Embassy, explored the ways in which new media can and have empowered citizens to organize and participate in the political process. I talked about The September Project.
One of the forum’s highlights was watching the student film submissions to the YouTube/US Department of State Democracy Video Challenge, a global contest that asked students to create and share short films that focused on “democracy is …” At the forum, legendary Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda spoke briefly about the importance of media and democracy. Gentle and generous, Wajda noted that as he grows older, he sometimes worries that today’s young filmmakers lack an interest in the social and political, in the spaces beyond ourselves where other people and other people’s sufferings exist. Watching the videos, however, gave him pride and hope for the future. He heartily introduced and congratulated the three finalists.
This week I learned from the US Embassy in Warsaw and the US Consulate in Krakow blog that one of the Polish finalists, Lukasz Szozda, has been selected as one of six grand prize winners! According to the blog, “Mr. Szozda will travel to New York, Washington DC, and Hollywood in October 2009, where he and the five other grand prize winners from other regions around the world will meet with democracy activists and members of the film and television industry.” What exciting news! Here is the prize-winning video.
Congratulations Lukasz Szozda! Congratulations Poland! Congratulations democracy!