Three students win firstever UNYouTube online video contest on hunger

16 October 2008Three university students from the United States will head to Ethiopia next month to film the work of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) after winning the first-ever online video competition organized by the agency and YouTube to raise awareness about global hunger. The winning video, entitled “Time is Running Out,” highlights the grim fact that a child dies of hunger every six seconds by featuring a series of photos of children in groups, with some slowly fading out of the picture, with the sound of a ticking clock in the background.The video was produced by three students from Auburn University in Alabama – Emma Thompson, Meri Kate Purgason and Collin Butler – who beat out some tough competition, including a professional filmmaker, in the HungerBytes competition, launched by WFP last November and hosted on YouTube.“We feel deeply moved and honoured,” said Ms. Purgason, a 20-year-old marketing student. “I believe the war on hunger is one that can be fought and won – and that gives me a lot of hope.”Their video, which can be viewed at, was chosen from among five finalists chosen by a panel of leading figures in the fields of film, web and humanitarian aid, including Edward Zwick, Director of Blood Diamond and The Last Samurai, Oscar-winning producer Cathy Schulman (.Crash, Darfur Now, The Illusionist) and Steve Grove, head of YouTube News and Politics. The five finalist videos, narrowed down from more than 70 short video entries, were on view for two months of voting on YouTube, with the winning video being the one that garnered the most views.The four runners-up are a video of a man struggling to open a tin can without tools, a woman miming cooking a meal without food, a well-to-do family sitting down to dinner and choosing which one of them is to eat that night, and a group of young people asking everyone to pitch in to make a difference in the fight against hunger.The winners were announced today to coincide with World Food Day, which seeks to draw attention to the 923 million people around the globe who go hungry every day.“We wanted to reach a new group of activists and humanitarians,” said Nancy Roman, WFP’s Director of Communications. “The YouTube generation is confident, forward-thinking and web-savvy. Their involvement in hunger initiatives can have a powerful and widespread impact on the fight against hunger.”During the trip to Ethiopia, the winning team will visit WFP’s largest food assistance operation, which is currently targeting an estimated 9.6 million hungry people suffering from the effects of drought and high food prices. read more

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