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It is our pleasure to announce that Łukasz Szozda, one of over 26 Poles who submitted their videos for the “Democracy Is…”  YouTube/U.S. Department of State Video Challenge, was chosen as one of the 18 global finalists and will represent Europe in the last stage of the contest.  The jury selected his animated film from among 196 submissions by filmmakers from around the world who made it to the semi-finals. Congratulations Łukasz!

Public voting to select six grand prize winners opened on May 15 and will continue until midnight on June 15 (EST).  The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw would like to encourage everyone to vote for their favorite video here.

Six winners will be selected from the 18 finalists – one each from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Middle East/North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia and East Asia/Pacific – and grand prize winners will be announced in mid-June 2009. The winners will receive an all-expense-paid trip in September to Washington, New York and Hollywood. The prize package includes time on television/film sets, meetings with film professionals, democracy advocates, the media, government officials, and special screenings of their videos.

The finalists, chosen from among a pool of more than 900 entries from 95 countries, represent Brazil (2), Cote d’Ivoire, Germany, India, Iran (2), Japan, Nepal, Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, the United States, Uzbekistan, and Zambia. These videos provide an array of voices and visions about democracy from around the world. The finalists were selected by an independent jury, co-chaired by Michael Apted (President of the Directors Guild of America) and Hernando de Soto (President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy).

Here’s what’s going to happen next:

• May 15 – June 15, 2009: YOU SELECT THE WINNERS! Please vote for your favorite on YouTube

• Mid-June, 2009: Winners announced!

• September 2009: Winners claim their prize

THE PRIZE

An all-expense-paid trip in September to Washington, D.C., New York and Hollywood including time on television/film sets, meetings with film professionals, democracy advocates, the media, government officials, and special screenings of their videos.