Video Challenge winner had to leave his country
to deliver his message
In a way, Farbod Khoshtinat has been
preparing for the Democracy Video Challenge for years, which would help explain
why the 21-year-old Iranian is the2010
winnerfor the Near East and
North Africa region.
Khoshtinat, also known as Fred, has been making
videos since his early teens, when a stop-motion animated short of his won
prizes in national competitions for student filmmakers. He grew up in Tehran and
studied cinema in high school and college. He was also active in Tehran's
underground music scene; hisvideosinclude
a popular one for Iranian hip-hop artist Hichkas, and he edited the music videos
for a feature film about the Iranian music underground,No
One Knows About Persian Cats.
Khoshtinat said that his work on music videos and
other underground, unauthorized short films led to an order by the Iranian
government about a year ago that he stop making films. Instead, he said by
e-mail, he moved to Malaysia to continue his studies. "I am sure now that I
cannot go back to Iran, but here I am safe and sound to work and publicize my
art," he said.
He is one of six winners of the Democracy Video
Challenge. His powerful winning video, a combination of live action and
animation, offers comments on democracy from a prisoner. The government that
oppresses its people is depicted as a powerful arm that crushes the stick
figures who speak up or need help. With the image of the arm putting a box over
a crowd of protesters, for example, the narrator says, "Democracy is not choking
the voices so that no harsh word could aggrieve your ears."
In a statement submitted with his video, Khoshtinat
calls himself a "freedom fighter" as well as an artist.
"I believe that one of the greatest things about art
is that it gives us the ability to see, imagine and feel things in a certain
way," he said. "This belief was the main reason I wanted to participate in this
challenge, to give the opportunity to the people around the world to see how
democracy is practiced in my country, so I visualized it through art; I wanted
them to see it through my certain way of visualizing. As a young student who is
studying abroad, this was the least thing I could do for my people since we all
are in the quest for democracy."
These are the other winners of the Democracy Video
The Democracy Video Challenge is a project involving
an array of public and private groups: the Center for International Private
Enterprise, the International Republican Institute, the International Youth
Foundation, the Motion Picture Association of America, NBC-Universal, the
National Democratic Institute, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts,
the Recording Industry Association of America, TakingITGlobal, the University of
Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, the U.S.
Department of State, WME and YouTube.
U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP)
engages international audiences on issues of foreign policy, society and values
to help create an environment receptive to U.S. national interests.