FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE 2006 Selects Winners

FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE today announced its winners of the unprecedented national competition for 30-to-60 second “issue films” open to all 18 to 26 year old U.S. residents, tabulating the results from the most heavily-voted video streaming poll ever on, combined with votes by its illustrious VIP Jury and ThinkTank.

Innocence Lost, about child abuse, by Gabriel Veenendaal, 25, from Murray, Utah; Orphans in Africa, about poverty in Africa, by Tim Leaton, 22, from Midlothian, Virginia; Thumbs Down to Pity, decrying stereotypes of the disabled, by Benjamin Snow, 19, of Woodland Park, Colorado; Strike It Up, about isolation in our technology bubbles, by Molly Conners, 26, from Albany, New York; It’s the Buzz, about safe-sex, by Brian Gonzalez, 19, from San Antonio, Texas.

In addition, Scott Hamann, 25, from South Portland, Maine, was the top winner in a new category created and judged by MSN Spaces — Integration of Film and New Media — for the most effective use of the internet in presenting an issue, mixing film, text and blogging on a personal webspace on MSN Spaces. His film is “Ubuntu: Humanity,” also about poverty in Africa.

Launched January 26, 2006 at Park City, Utah during film festival season, FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE ( invited all young Americans to create personal “issue films” as a way to engage young people in pressing contemporary issues, add their voices to the public dialogue, and take a contemporary snapshot of what’s on young people’s minds, circa 2006. More than 300 films were submitted.

Thirty-five semi-finalists were posted on May 26 for public voting on, which tabulated 88,638 votes by deadline of midnight, June 7, 2006 — and breaking the record as the most heavily-voted video streaming poll in history, leaping past the 61,598 votes for the poll for best ads broadcast during the Super Bowl, the largest-viewed annual television event.

Thomas Brew, executive editor at, noted, “We have been delighted and surprised by the success of the FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE voting competition. We knew its potential to make a difference, and provide a platform for young people to tell us what’s on their minds. And we expected it to be of interest to our millions of users to view and vote on these films. But when you consider that there are more 35 videos to choose from and FYI is not tied to a major television event, it is outstanding that this has become the biggest vote ever for videos — surpassing even the Super Bowl ad vote, which received more than 61,000 votes.”

The filmmakers will receive their awards at the 2006 FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE Awards Ceremony, co-hosted by USA TODAY, MSN Spaces and MSN Video on Monday, June 19, 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The event co-host, United Nations Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor, will be joined at the podium by Academy-Award winning actor Ellen Burstyn and Judy Woodruff, Special Correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In addition to the filmmakers being awarded, the inaugural Walter Cronkite Civic Engagement Leadership Award will be presented to Illinois State University for its student outreach on behalf of both civic engagement and in support of FYI. The FYI Award trophy designer is New York artist-designer Frank Carfaro.

Finalist films will also be presented at the FYI awards ceremony at the U.N., presented at a private reception hosted by MSN Spaces in Park City, Utah during film festival season 2007, and air this summer on mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network, and be available on demand on broadband channel mtvU Uber at Filmmakers will receive a Toshiba Qosmio laptop and Motorola RAZR V3, and a single finalist will be offered a paid summer internship at The Walt Disney Studios.

Select films will also be selected as part of “Generation Next,” an ambitious project produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and headed by correspondent Judy Woodruff, which will similarly provide a contemporary snapshot of what’s on the minds of young Americans, circa 2006. “Generation Next” will use multiple platforms of a PBS documentary, multiple segments on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and online websites. Production begins in June 2006, with airdates planned for late 2006 and early 2007. The FYI films will be presented on the “Generation Next” internet platform, and evaluated for broadcast consideration.

“As FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE has evolved in its second year, it has provided us with layers of pleasure, excitement, delight and surprise — from the number and quality of entries which were powerful, illuminating, raw, indignant, conscious to the overwhelming response of the public, whose votes on, has surpassed the record set by the Super Bowl ads voting page,” notes HeathCliff Rothman, Founder and President of FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE.

“Ultimately, it’s a testament to this young generation who show such vivid consciousness of the world around them, understand nuances of issues, and comprehend with perhaps greater clarity than any generation before them their own equality, in each of their individual categories, identities, ethnicities and life choices, and that of animals.”

MSN Spaces, a presenting sponsor of FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE, created the new category, Integration of Film and New Media, evaluating the intersection of internet, film, blogging and text to support an issue. The five winners, selected by Microsoft General Manager Jodi Ropert, who served as Chief Adjudicator, are Scott Hamann (; Charles Choueri, (; Griffin Hammond (; Tim Leaton (; Virginia Theil (

FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE’s esteemed roster of VIP Judges, headed by distinguished Jurist Walter Cronkite, include George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Senator Barack Obama, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Ellen Burstyn, Anderson Cooper, Brian Williams, USA TODAY President Craig Moon, Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman Tom Rothman, Universal Studios CEO Ron Meyer, Disney Chairman Dick Cook and others.

Some of the world’s largest companies, organizations and national and international leaders have come together behind an unprecedented initiative to engage young Americans in the pressing social issues of our time, including Presenting Sponsors MSN Spaces and MSN Video,, USA TODAY, Entertainment Weekly, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., mtvU, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Independent Pictures, The United Nations, The Humane Society of the United States, ASCAP, Motorola, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, The Maui Film Festival, The Vail Film Festival, and all the major higher education academic organizations.

FYI – FILM YOUR ISSUE academic partners include the leading organizations of higher education: The Association of American Colleges and Universities, The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (The American Democracy Project), The American Association of University Professors, Campus Compact and Imagining America.

Visit for more information, to view the winners and finalists, and read about the filmmakers and their inspiration for making their films.

NOTE: The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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