REMARKS BY LORI BRUTTEN
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Celebration of Democracy Video Challenge Winners
September 20, 2010
Directors Guild of America, Los Angeles, CA
Thank you, Jeremy. The energy and resources that your team at NBC-Universal has brought to this project are a large part of its success, and I think you’ll be delighted to see the results of all our efforts when you view the compelling group of videos that our winners offer.
I’d also like to thank Sahar and the Directors Guild of America's continuing support in making their facilities available to us for tonight’s special screening.
Welcome distinguished guests from the diplomatic corps, our partners, invited guests and the media. I am delighted to be here today at the Directors Guild of America as we recognize the work of the Democracy Video Challenge winners; Adhyatmika, Anup, Farbod, Joel, Juan Pablo and Yared. Please accept my congratulations.
There is perhaps no better place to conclude our celebration of the Democracy Video Challenge winners than here in Hollywood at the Directors Guild of America. Members of this organization have been exploring the nuances of democracy through their art since the earliest days of the cinema -- from Charlie Chaplin, Frank Capra and Otto Preminger to Mike Nichols, Ron Howard and Oliver Stone.
Hollywood has long been fascinated with the institutions of American democracy. Many great Hollywood directors fleeing totalitarian regimes in early 20th century Europe viewed this democratic society as a beacon of hope. Others, disillusioned by wars and political scandals in the latter 20th century viewed this political system as profoundly flawed.
It is important to note, however, that the democratic system allowed them all to explore and express their views openly. And not only did the system allow it, there is no doubt that many Hollywood directors see it as their civic duty to explore the intricacies of the American political system as a way to keep the public informed.
The result is a rich and diverse body of films exploring the strengths, the weaknesses, the successes and the failures of this country’s democracy over the past century. Every director brings a unique perspective to the issue and contributes a valuable voice to the discussion.
We see a similar phenomenon with the Democracy Video Challenge, only on a global scale. When we ask filmmakers around the world to complete the phrase “Democracy is…” in a short video, we get a staggering variety of responses – from laudatory to critical and from aspirational to cautionary.
And I think I can speak for all of the “Democracy is…” partners in saying this is exactly what we hoped to see – thought-provoking works of art that serve to inform global citizens and drive the debates and conversations without which democracy cannot exist.
We’re here tonight to recognize and honor these six young filmmakers for their remarkable achievements, but also to pay tribute to the power of art to shape political discourse. These six individuals have already helped drive robust discussions on our social media platforms, and I’m certain when you see their videos, they’ll raise some interesting questions in your minds as well.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at these videos and see what they have to tell us.