Addis Ababa, June 22, 2010 – Ethiopian Filmmaker Yared Shumete Desalegne was named the Grand Finalist for Africa in the global Democracy Video Challenge competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, YouTube and many other partners. Thousands of YouTube viewers from all over the world watched and voted for Yared’s original video, Democracy is Fair Play, during the online voting
period from May 15-June 15, 2010. As his prize, Yared will receive an all-expense-paid trip in September to Washington DC, Hollywood and New York City, along with the five other Grand Finalists from around the world.
The U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Booth, heartily congratulated filmmaker Yared on his victory, and commented that the win reflected the creativity, talent and diversity of the burgeoning Ethiopian film community. He noted, “Through evocative images of a popular Ethiopian children’s game, Yared’s film has resonated with global audiences on the importance of fair play, good sportsmanship and respect for one’s opponent in democracy.” Ambassador Booth stated that all Ethiopians can be proud of Yared’s achievement. The Ambassador also expressed appreciation for the publicity that the Ethiopian media has given to the film, including Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency’s special broadcast of Democracy is Fair Play and interview of Yared, which helped to build public support for Yared’s election as a grand finalist.
For his part, Yared related that he was overjoyed and honored to win the Grand Finalist Prize for Africa and expressed deep appreciation for the support Ethiopians and others had provided in the voting process. His short video Democracy is Fair Play depicts two young boys playing a traditional Ethiopian game known variously as Memch or Ezizilosh. The boys toss rocks to see who has to carry the other, good naturedly switching positions when one boy’s rock hits the other’s. Yared said that his film is based on the idea that “even if you are not on top, you are still in the game.”
Because of the “fair play” theme of his video, Yared was asked by the U.S. Department of State to participate in a global webchat June 22 on the significance of his video in relation to the current World Cup tournament happening in South Africa. Yared took questions from all over the world on his victory in the Democracy Video Challenge and the message that he tried to convey about fair play in his film.