To mark the United Nations' first-ever International Day of Democracy, the U.S. State Department launched a YouTube-based video contest on Monday.
Called the Democracy Video Challenge, the contest encourages the submission of three-minute videos that define the concept of democracy.
"The Democracy Video Challenge asks budding filmmakers, democracy advocates, and the general public to create video shorts that complete the phrase, 'Democracy is...'," the contest's official Web site explains. While they don't require entrants to be professional filmmakers, it's pretty clear that they're looking for something more high-end than sitting in front of your Webcam and waxing philosophical about Barack Obama.
Submissions will be accepted through January 31, and a jury will select semifinalists and then finalists. Seven winners, each one from a different global region, will be chosen by a public vote sometime in June. The winners will receive trips to New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles for screenings and meetings with film industry representatives and "democracy advocates."
Partners in the contest include NBC Universal, the film schools at New York University and the University of Southern California, and the Directors Guild of America.