Rising Nepali filmmaker Anup Poudel accomplished his dream, becoming the South and Central Asia region's winner for the Democracy Video Challenge Award. The award includes an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, New York, and Los Angeles to meet leaders in film, democracy, and government. The challenge is part of the State Department's "Democracy Is..." campaign, which includes video, photo, and social media contests. More than 150 U.S. embassies and consulates have participated in the challenge since the Bureau of International Information Programs launched it in 2008, with more than 1,600 videos from 111 countries submitted. This is the second year in a row that Nepal has won for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
The idea of the challenge is for participants to interpret the meaning of democracy through a film no longer than three minutes. Anup and the five other regional winners were presented with their awards in a special ceremony featuring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale on September 10. In her remarks, Secretary Clinton highlighted Anup's observation, "Democracy can exist in all countries, and it doesn't have a fixed shape or size.”
At the reception following the ceremony, I caught up with Anup. Anup hails from Kavre, Nepal, where is the youngest of four children and is currently a film student. He said his father, a politician, inspired him to produce the film.
Nepal is a country that only transitioned to democracy 20 years ago and that signed a Comprehensive Peace Accord four years ago. Anup explained to me that he had chosen to explore the theme of democracy through the cultural symbolism of color. He said, “My father says that democracy is blue. Blue for freedom. My brother, he says democracy is yellow, for unity. My sister says democracy is green, the color of peace. And my mother says that democracy is red, for love.” At the end of the video, Anup combines all of the colors to make black -- the color of power, the power of a nation.
On only the second day of his two-week trip to the United States, Anup said he had already learned so much and was looking forward to onward stops in New York and Los Angeles, before returning home to share his experiences with his family.