American University in Cairo Students Win at UNICEF Movie Festival

Last night at the Cairo Opera House, Mass Communications students of The American University in Cairo (AUC) were recognized for their winning work at the Universities' Movies Festival, sponsored by UNICEF. Two groups of AUC students, led by Mohamed Bary and Runa Alarian, received awards for the projects they developed in the Integrated Marketing Communication Capstone course in Journalism and Mass Communication. Mona Helal also received an award for a project she developed independently.

In celebration of the International Year of Youth, UNICEF worked in collaboration with the Egyptian National Child Rights Observatory to organize the Universities Film Festival for Youth and Children. Students from the Integrated Marketing Communication and Media Convergence Capstone courses entered the competition with their own public announcement projects focused on mass communication related to the January revolution and the future of Egypt.

"I was extremely impressed with student work," said Naila Hamdy, professor of the mass communications course. "I felt that they were exceptionally engaged with the course material because it was so closely related to the events in the country and to their personal beliefs."

Sherine Fahmy, professor of the capstone course expressed similar sentiments about the success of her students. "The film was beautifully produced and the idea was highly creative, they did everything from A to Z by themselves," she said. "This group was amazing and always on top of things."

Bary team, that won second place in the public service announcement category, created the website (Think for Yourself) which lists all self-nominating candidates for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. "The website includes their resumes and previous experiences, so that people can nominate candidates on a rational basis," explained Bary. "We have been used to forgery and nepotism in elections. This is a social campaign to change that attitude."

Bary's project team used the image of marionettes with someone controlling them from above on the website as a metaphor to avoid being controlled politically. "On the streets we got our friends to dress up as marionettes with signs saying "fakarbnafsak," the name of the campaign," said Bary. The project also won Best Creative Strategy from J. Walter Thompson, a renowned New York based advertising agency.

Alarian led the other AUC project team to first place for a public service announcement aimed at spreading the patriotic spirit present in Tahrir Square that has led to camaraderie among rivals and less harassment towards women.

Alarian and her group conducted market research at Tahrir Square to see if people were applying their actions in the square in their daily lives. "The spirit of Tahrir that was present during the revolution is not just in Tahrir Square, but everywhere," said Alarian. "If we act the same way we acted in Tahrir Square now after Mubarak has stepped down, we will be able to accomplish the goals of the revolution."

Now that their projects have been recognized, the students hope to move forward with their messages. "We have received the exposure of the UNICEF award and we are searching for funding that could help bring this project into life," said Bary.

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
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