A Contest to Capture Democracy on Video
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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our program:
We tell about this year's winners of the MacArthur Fellowships.
We also report on the winners of a new international competition for videos that define democracy.
And we play music from a new album by jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.
Democracy Video Challenge
Last year, the American State Department launched a worldwide video competition. It asked filmmakers to create short videos that completed the sentence "Democracy is ... " Last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated the winners at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Faith Lapidus has our story.
The Democracy Video Challenge was launched last year at the United Nations on September fifteenth, International Democracy Day. Officials said the competition was designed to expand the discussion of democracy around the world.
Competitors had to be at least eighteen years old and could enter only one video each. The videos were to be no longer than three minutes. They were entered into competition on the Web site YouTube.
More than nine hundred people from ninety-five countries entered the Democracy Video Challenge. There were twenty top judges. They were from the democracy groups, universities, and media organizations that worked with the State Department to set up the contest. The judges chose a winning video from each of the six major areas of the world.
Chansa Tembo of Zambia is one of the winners. His video compares democracy to a drink called a smoothie. The drink is made by combining different fruits into a smooth and tasty thick liquid. Chansa Tembo explains:
CHANSA TEMBO: "I thought about democracy and I thought we all have to get along somehow. You might not like an orange by itself, you might not like a banana by itself, but if you combine different fruits together, you might be able to actually produce something which is consumable by the whole society."
Aissa Penafiel is a winner from the Philippines. Her video shows a man alone in the darkness. He speaks of the dangers of the abuse of democracy.
"Democracy. Fueled by the voice of the masses. But what drives the masses to speak? Hunger. Fatigue. Pain. Despair. Ambition. Money. Fear. Will you not vote for the killer if you already feel the cold steel of his gun against your head?"
The other winners are from Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Nepal. Along with the award, the winners also got a free trip to New York City and Los Angeles, California, to attend screenings of their videos. And they will meet with film industry leaders and democracy activists.
The Democracy Video Challenge for two thousand ten has already begun.
Receiving a phone call from the MacArthur Foundation can change a person's life forever. Last month, the organization, based in Chicago, Illinois, told twenty-four people that they had been chosen for the yearly fellowship award. Each winner receives five hundred thousand dollars over five years. The organization sees the award as an investment in that person's interesting work and future efforts.
Lawyers, doctors, writers and artists were among the winners of this year's MacArthur Fellowship. The Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat was one of the winners. Her books describe the experiences of Haitian immigrants. Mizz Danticat said the thing artists need most is time. She says the award money will give her a sense of security that will help her work greatly.
Several of this year's fellows are scientists. Peter Huybers is a scientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He uses math, physics and statistics to study climate change patterns. Lin He at the University of California, Berkeley, is a molecular biologist. She has made valuable discoveries about cell behavior that could lead to future cancer treatments.
Artists who won the fellowship include thirty-five year old photographer Lynsey Addario. She takes powerful images of people living in war-torn countries. James Longley makes deeply personal movies about communities in the Middle East. His films help bring a wider understanding about the effects of conflict in the area.
Timothy Barrett of Iowa City, Iowa, is both an artist and scientist. He is a paper maker and historian who is helping to document ancient paper traditions. He has also developed special kinds of paper to help people who work in the art and book industries.
Elyn Saks is a legal expert who works to expand the rights of people with severe mental illness. Her personal experiences influence her work. She has written a book about her struggles with schizophrenia.
The MacArthur Foundation says this fellowship is not just an award for past success. It says the money is aimed at ensuring that these experts will do even more creative things in the future.
Terri Lyne Carrington
Jazz musician Terri Lyne Carrington is one of the few women to be successful as a professional drummer. She has performed with some of the greatest jazz musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock since she was very young. Shirley Griffith has more about Terri Lyne Carrington and plays music from her new album, "More to Say."
Drummer, songwriter and producer Terri Lyne Carrington began playing the saxophone as a child. But the instrument became difficult to play after she lost her baby teeth. Then she discovered a set of old drums in her family's home and became interested in playing that instrument. The drums had belonged to her grandfather, jazz musician Matt Carrington.
By the time she was seven, Terri Lyne had become an extraordinary drummer.
Just three years later, she was performing with famous jazz and blues musicians including Clark Terry, Oscar Peterson and Joe Williams. At age eleven, the young drummer received a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Today she is a professor at Berklee.
Terri Lyne Carrington released her first album, "Real Life Story," in nineteen eighty-nine. It was nominated for a Grammy Award. Her new album, "More to Say," marks her twenty year anniversary as a solo performer. She wrote the song "Papa San" to honor her father, saxophone player Sonny Carrington. He performs the song with Terri on her new album.
Terri Lyne Carrington also is recognized as a talented singer. She sings the soulful song "Hold Me Again" with jazz great Les McCann.
Famous jazz singer Nancy Wilson also performs one of Terri Lyne Carrington's songs on "More to Say." Carrington described the experience as "a dream come true." We leave you with that song, "Imagine This."
I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Lawan Davis, Dana Demange, and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer. Our reader was Mario Ritter.
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Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.