We are excited today to announce that Łukasz Szozda, one of the Polish entrants in the global YouTube/U.S. Department of State Democracy Video Challenge, has won the grand prize for Europe. When he heard the news, Ambassador Victor Ashe responded:
“We are very proud to see that one of the excellent contributions by Polish video artists went on to win the grand prize for Europe. Congratulations to Łukasz from all of us in the U.S. Mission to Poland. Your uplifting and appealing video clearly struck the same chord with voters from around the world as it did with Polish voters and American diplomats in Poland.”
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. The videos by Mr. Szozda and the other regional winners will be featured in a gala screening hosted by the Motion Picture Association of America. To see Łukasz Szozda’s winning entry, click here.
Mr. Szozda’s video is one of over 900 entries from 95 countries that competed for six grand prizes. The Democracy Video Challenge ran from October 2008 through January 2009, promoted in Poland by the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, the U.S. Consulate General in Krakow, MTV Poland, the Center for Citizenship Education, and POLIS – the association of young journalists. Three Polish semi-finalists were selected by an open vote and were announced by legendary Polish film director Andrzej Wajda at the New Media/New Democracy Forum in March 2009 at Warsaw’s Fabryka Trzciny. A jury chaired by award-winning director Michael Apted and renowned economist Hernando de Soto selected three finalists from each region, with Mr. Szozda’s film competing for the grand prize from Europe. From May 15 to June 15, 2009, people from all over the world voted through YouTube for their favorite films — and Mr. Szozda’s entry won!
26-year-old Łukasz Szozda studied at Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts. An animator, graphic artist, and illustrator, he currently works as a freelance animator of 2D graphics for several animation firms, businesses, and cultural institutions.
The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and U.S. Consulate in Krakow congratulate Mr. Szozda and all the Polish entrants in the Democracy Video Challenge. This year, as Poland celebrates 20 years since its first free elections, over 26 Poles created videos that demonstrate their view of democracy.
From our co-chairs:
“Our winners have taken up their cameras to jumpstart a global conversation about the meaning of democracy. Their unique voices, revealed through the art of video, bypass borders and speak to us all about the freedoms that truly matter,” said Michael Apted, president of the Directors Guild of America. “I heartily congratulate the winners and encourage them, along with all of the contestants, to keep expressing themselves through the creative arts.”
– Michael Apted, Jury Co-chair, and President, Directors Guild of America
“From more than 900 videos submitted from 95 countries, your work has emerged triumphant, a remarkable achievement for which I congratulate you. The wide appeal of your truly unique take on “democracy” across national, ethnic and religious boundaries confirms one of democracy’s greatest advantages: the opportunity for ordinary people to express their personal opinions freely and creatively and win over millions of strangers to their side. You have proved your talent for influencing people. Your next challenge is to find ways to use it for helping your fellow citizens and the rest of the world, all of us dependent on young, innovative supporters of the democratic way”.
– Hernando de Soto, Jury Co-chair, and President, Institute for Liberty & Democracy