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Youth Video Festival highlights diversity

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The annual competition aims to amplify young voices on the topics of social inclusion, diversity, and migration, said Jordi Torrent, project manager for media and information literacy at UNAOC.

A screenshot of the short video "Cry of the Refugees", by Bizimana Francois of Kenya. The video earned the International Jury Award at the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival in 2013. (Photo Screenshot)

A screenshot of the short video “Cry of the Refugees”, by Bizimana Francois of Kenya. The video earned the International Jury Award at the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival in 2013.
(Photo Screenshot)

“I dress up the way I want to,” says a woman’s voice, as the camera zooms in to watch her apply pink lipstick and step out the door in a tank top and suede platform heels.

“Hold on,” she says. “Did I say the way I want? I wish it was like that.”

So begins “As I want” by Jordanian Alaa Al Sa’si, a short film that was one of 25 honoured in the international 2013 PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival. Submissions for this year’s competition, sponsored by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration, are due 27 June.

The annual competition, launched in 2009, aims to amplify young voices on the topics of social inclusion, diversity, and migration, said Jordi Torrent, project manager for media and information literacy at UNAOC. Its name reflects to pluralistic nature of society.

“The majority of people on our planet are young people, yet, we only hear from them when they are involved in crime, sports, or entertainment,” Torrent said. “We hardly hear their voices on the issues of the day.”

The festival accepts music videos, animation – anything, Torrent said, “as long as it addresses the themes of diversity and social inclusion.”

Last year, winning videos broached topics such as child marriage in India, tribal conflict in sub-Saharan Africa, and racial discrimination in Lithuania.

Al Sa’di’s video artfully challenges the idea that society should define modesty.

As the camera rolls, the woman walks down the street, passing a leering man wiping down a car. She starts out wearing a tank top and jeans, but, as time progresses, she appears more and more covered.

“I’m like the other girls,” she says. “I dress up the way my dad wants me to, the way my brother wants me to.”

Research shows initiatives that help youth to participate in political and cultural discourse through media, like Plural +, improve citizenship, Torrent said.

“Creating media is empowering because it gives you a voice,” he said.  “You feel like you’ve been heard.”

The organisation would “like to hear more voices from Egypt,” he said.

“Just from watching the news,” he said, “I suspect the youth have a lot to say.”

PLURAL+ will fly the top three filmmakers in three age categories (9-12, 13-17, 18-25) to New York to present their work at an awards ceremony at the Paley Center for Media. More than a dozen of the initiative’s partners, including the Humanity-Without-Borders Foundation and the Paley Center for Media, are offering additional prizes. Many include cash incentives.

For more information about entry requirements, visit pluralplus.unaoc.org.


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