On November 18, ViewChange.org, a multimedia website created to spark progress in improving the lives of people in developing countries, funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will announce the winners of its first international online film contest.
Aaron Kisner, the winner of The Grand Prize ($20,000) for his “Vital Voices: Kakenya,” has pledged to donate the award money to the subject and inspiration of his film, Kakenya Ntaiya, a woman who made her simple dream come true - opening the first primary school for girls in her Maasai village in Kenya, a region where girls are discouraged from getting an education and often fall by the wayside of progress. The money will help her build a dorm at her school to host girls who travel for many miles to receive an education.
New York filmmaker Aaron Kisner also won the $5,000 prize in the “Overcoming Conflict” category with his riveting film which uses animation, photography, and video to tell Kakenya’s incredible story. (He won $25,000 total). You can view his film below:
The other category winners include:
o EMPOWERMENT CATEGORY: “Chocolate Country,” by Robin Blotnick (New York, USA): In the backcountry of the Dominican Republic, poor cacao farmers have been fighting a losing battle with the global economy for as long as anyone can remember. The Loma Guacnojo Cooperative has found a way to turn the system on its head.
o INNOVATION CATEGORY: “Burning in the Sun” by Cambria Matlow (New York, USA): Twenty-six-year-old charmer Daniel Dembele decides to return to his homeland in Mali and start a local business building solar panels - the first of its kind in the sun-drenched nation. Daniel's goal is to electrify the households of rural communities, 99 percent of which live without power.
o LEADERSHIP CATEGORY: “The Witchdoctor” by Robby Bresson (Kenya): In Africa, traditional Healers have a great influence on how societies perceive new ideas and react to change. “The Witchdoctor” is a comical drama that seeks to affirm the role of the traditional healer, who at the grassroots level is doing his part to fight against H.I.V and AIDS.
o LOCAL/GLOBAL CATEGORY: “Rising to the Top” by Ana Cetina (Washington, D.C., USA): Can flying through the air with the greatest of ease improve the lives of impoverished people? That’s the premise of the Sarakasi Trust, a non-profit organization in Nairobi, Kenya, that empowers young people through the arts. “Rising to the Top,” follows two of the artists who have built better lives through acrobatics.
o SUSTAINABILITY CATEGORY: “Trash is Cash” by Peter Jansen (Nairobi, Kenya): This music video by the hip hop group, Wafalme, features 18 kids ages 8-23. Rapping about pollution and climate change in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, Wafalme and the Slum Talent Trust seek to enlighten us about the ways recycling can lead to self-employment and a better, more sustainable world.
Other contest info:
o They were among more than 136 entries in the contest.
o Filmmakers telling stories based in 49 countries, including Iraq, India, Tanzania, Nepal, Nepal, Rwanda, Namibia and others submitted short films,
o All films can be viewed here.
Judging included online voters along with a celebrity panel of judges. Celebrity judges include Gael Garcia Bernal, actor and director, Wim Wenders, director; Danny Glover, actor, director, and UN Ambassador; Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Chair of the Committee on Appropriations; Angélique Kidjo, Grammy-Award winning musician and UN Ambassador; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of “Purple Hibiscus” and MacArthur Fellow; and Charles Annenberg Weingarten, filmmaker, philanthropist, storyteller, and Director and Vice President of the Annenberg Foundation.
WHAT IS VIEWCHANGE.ORG:
The film contest is part of Link TV’s official launch of ViewChange.org – a multimedia website created to spark progress in improving the lives of people in developing countries, which is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.