Last week, Łukasz Szozda, the young Polish filmmaker who won the grand prize among European entrants in this year’s international “Democracy is…” Video Challenge, participated in a web chat with young people across the globe. His creative film was played again – for those who didn’t get a chance to see it when it came out – and Łukasz answered questions. We are presenting some of the most interesting questions and answers below and invite everyone to read the full webchat transcript here. To view other films by Łukasz, please visit his homepage: www.lukfilms.pl

Q: How did you develop the concept for your film?
Luke: I just took the simplest ideas of democracy that came to my mind and tried to illustrate them in an entertaining and interesting way.

Q: How difficult was it to do an animation video?
Luke: For me… easier than to make a normal video. It depends on what you are good at. I am an animator, so I express my thoughts this way. Animation takes time but that’s the way I like to describe world.

Q: I have read that the people of Poland are somewhat disappointed with the way things have turned out in post-communist Poland. Do you think Poles are disappointed with democracy?
Luke: I think it depends on the people. There will always be some that are unhappy, whatever the system. I think it’s good we were able to win Democracy in Poland after all years of communism and even though it might not be perfect, it is still better than it was before.

Q: How long did it take you to make the movie?
Luke: It took a couple of days to figure out the concept, we were having a brainstorm with my fiancé which ideas of democracy would be best to outline, then how to illustrate them, then another couple of days to make the animation, and another to add the sound. I would say it took about three weeks.

ConxOn Friday August 14, the European winner of the Democracy Video Challenge, Łukasz Szozda, will participate in a webchat—a great way to connect audiences across the globe. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw encourages everyone to participate. For details on the webchat, please click here. Łukasz Szozda won the grand prize among European entrants in the YouTube/U.S. Department of State Democracy Video Challenge.   He will travel to New York, Washington DC, and Hollywood in October, 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.  To see Lukasz Szozda’s winning entry, click here. For more information on other webchat series please follow this link

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.

Be among the first to get highlights of U.S. President Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo and tell us what you think!  Go to http://www.america.gov/sms.html and be part of the action.

obamaOn June 4, the President will give a speech “A New Beginning:” in Cairo, Egypt, outlining his personal commitment to engagement with the Muslim world, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect, and will discuss how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them.

The speech will be televised by CNN, BBC, and many local networks.  You can also log on to view the speech and to participate — hundreds of people are already signed up for the live webchat.

Additionally, America.gov has created a special page for those of you who are interested in the speech or in the partnership between the U.S. and countries in the Islamic world.  We hope you’ll have a moment to check it out — and don’t forget to let us know what you think.

We have a number of interesting webchats coming up.  Please note that all times local times in Poland.  You can join in from anywhere around the world, just as long as you have a computer connected to the internet.

1. Discussion of Obama’s first 100 days in office with Michelle Austein Brooks, the State Department’s blogger who has been covering the administration’s first steps. Thursday at 4:00 PM in Poland at https://statedept.connectsolutions.com/first100days

2. In honor of World Press Freedom Day, next week features timely discussions of the current status and future of  journalism.


CO.NX has announced a new webchat on “Green Buildings and Technology” with Mary Colvin-Werner, a green buildings and technology expert with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This webchat will take place at 17:00 Polish time on Thursday, April 23, 2009.

 If you would like to participate, please go to http://statedept.connectsolutions.com/conxgreen. No registration is needed. Simply choose “Enter as a Guest,” type in your preferred screen name, and join the discussion.

And if you do take part, please come back and let us know how it went!

You don’t have to have a VIP invitation to Prague, Strasburg, or Istanbul.  You can chat with Obama live from Turkey at 9:00 on Monday morning in Poland.  Just join in through Facebook on CO.NX, a new State Department page hosting video chats with Americans you would like to meet.  (more…)