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Press Release 01/64

FAO CELEBRATES 53RD ANNUAL PRIX ITALIA:
AWARDS DOCUMENTARY ON FIGHT AGAINST AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA


Bologna, 5 October 2001 -- Recognizing the power of the media to invoke social change, Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), awarded the first ever FAO/Prix Italia Special Award for a documentary on the battle to fight AIDS in South Africa.

Speaking on September 22 during the closing ceremonies of the Prix Italia, one of the most prestigious media and broadcasting festivals in Europe, Dr. Diouf told members of the media that their stories reach millions and thus, "You have a precious role to play."

Dr. Diouf presented the award to the producer and co-director Jacqueline Fox of the South African Broadcasting Corporation for a documentary entitled "Together We Can: South Africa's Youth Against AIDS."

The programme was inspired by the death of Nkosi Johnson, a young boy who became a national symbol of hope in the fight against AIDS. It focuses on the way schoolchildren, the government, non-governmental organizations and the rural community, are fighting to contain the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country.

Statistics indicate that 25 of the 36 million people infected with HIV/AIDS are in Africa. Many of them work in agriculture. Since 1995, seven million of them have died of the disease. When farmers die, their knowledge dies with them.

The FAO/Prix Italia Special Award was created out of a partnership between FAO and RAI TV. The award's international jury, who chose the winning documentary based on the theme of Communication for Life, underscored the importance of messages to the global community and the way these impact people on a human, personal level.

The jury expressed the importance of "programmes offering insights and an ethical dimension, arousing sentiments and behaviour reflecting human solidarity, appealing to a sense and thirst for justice."

Dr. Diouf noted the challenges of fighting human suffering, as well as hunger and poverty in developing nations, which is the central mandate of FAO. He also noted that international aid for agriculture has declined by 40 percent in recent years, figures that the media has an opportunity to highlight.

"In a world where the sensational sells, the silent, daily drama of 800 million fellow human beings goes usually unnoticed. Hunger statistics, no matter how eloquent, are rapidly forgotten. But the lively stories of the media do reach the hearts and minds of millions of people. It is here where you have a precious role to play in the global endeavor against hunger and poverty. "

He added that, "With your help, we can give a voice to the hungry and tell the world that solutions are available, that the resources devoted to the fight against hunger are the best investment that modern society could ever make for a prosperous, safe and peaceful world."

Carlo Sartori, secretary general of Prix Italia, added that, "If Prix Italia helps to develop this awareness, it will continue to serve as a useful and noble purpose."

The 53rd Prix Italia, launched in 1948 by RAI TV, is one of the most prestigious media and broadcasting events in Europe, bringing together radio, television and web-based media artists, as well as writers, directors, producers and broadcasters. Over 350 participants from 40 countries descended upon Bologna to showcase their work, which ranged from documentaries to fiction to performing arts.

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For more information, contact Ms Anna Shen, FAO Media Relations, (06) 5705 5149 or anna.shen@fao.org


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