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Gala for HIV/AIDS Film Competition to be Broadcast Live in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal – The AED-managed USAID Nepal Marketing and Communications for AIDS, Reproductive Health and Child Survival (N-MARC) project will stage a gala awards ceremony culminating an HIV/AIDs short film competition on December 13 in Kathmandu. The aim of the competition was to produce entertaining short films that will influence most-at-risk populations, including young people, to increase their perception of personal risk of contracting HIV through risky sexual behavior, and to motivate adoption of risk reduction behaviors, such as condom use and being faithful to a single partner. The gala, hosted by Nancy Powell, the US Ambassador to Nepal, will air live on two major television channels and feature an awards ceremony, Nepali celebrity endorsements, and grand prizes for the top three films and their filmmakers.

Preparations for the short film competition began in August of 2008. Through an open competition, N-MARC selected eight emerging Nepali filmmakers to produce five to seven minute films under the apt theme of “You Are No Exception.” The filmmakers produced their films in the national Nepali language as well as in regional languages such as Maithili, Dotteli, and Achhami, and the films highlight specific HIV/AIDS-related stories relevant to these language groups, regions, and unique cultures.

Eight established figures from the entertainment industry of Nepal star in lead roles for the short films, contributing to publicity as well as providing “clout” for the overall social message. Anticipation for the awards gala is high. Since the inception of the activity, screenings have occurred in over 150 cinemas, covering 70% of the regions within Nepal. “Cinema on Wheels”, a special screening, was organized in 22 different high-risk areas bordering India along the East-West highway. Additionally, each film crew visited 50 districts (out of 75) as part of a publicity tour where they interacted with college students, media, local people, and security personnel (police and army) and their wives in 21 bases and barracks across the country. Many stakeholders and influentials in Nepal have warmly embraced the short films. In support of the event, the Nepal Investment Bank Limited contributed over $25,000 to sponsor prizes for the three winning films.

The film competition is the key component of a broader communications campaign that aimed to address social taboos, hesitation, and myths associated with the purchase and use of condoms, to increase perceived risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and to establish condom use and other risk reduction methods as normative behaviors among at-risk individuals. Along with the short film competition, the campaign included other activities such as the production and distribution of promotional materials and a partnership with the Hotel Association of Nepal.

The goal of N-MARC, a USAID Private Sector Program “Task Order” managed by AED, is to increase the availability and sustained use of family planning (FP), maternal and child health (MCH), and HIV/STI prevention products and services in Nepal.

Posted January 2009

Read more about the Nepal Social Marketing and Franchise Project (N-MARC) project