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BET, Black AIDS Institute, Kaiser Family Foundation and YWCA Announce Finalists of 2nd Annual Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition

Embargoed for release until:
July 26, 2005

For further information contact:
Lyntina Townsend, BET
202/608-2745, lyntina.towsend@bet.net
Tracy Taylor, BAI
213/353-3610, tracyt@blackaids.org
Rob Graham, KFF
650/854-9400, RobG@kff.org

BET, Black AIDS Institute, Kaiser Family Foundation and YWCA Announce Finalists of 2nd Annual Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition

WASHINGTON (July 26, 2005) – Culminating an extensive national call for submissions, BET, the Black AIDS Institute (The Institute), the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the YWCA are proud to announce the finalists in the 2nd Annual Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition (RIU/BASS). Ten finalists are now eligible for the next level of competition from which the winning entry will be selected.

The RIU/BASS film competition seeks to highlight the issue of HIV prevention, testing, treatment and the effect of HIV/AIDS on individuals and families in the African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and/or Afro-Latin communities in the United States. In particular, the competition helps to raise awareness about the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black communities; encourages the public to know their status; and seeks to inspire people to take action to stop the spread of the disease. Screenwriters were encouraged to use their creativity to evoke a ‘fresh’ and culturally unique angle on these issues in a way that will resonate with African Americans.

Numerous entries were received and reviewed by a select group of judges from across the country. The finalists are: Drew Anderson, Justin Follin, Charneice Fox and Michelle Sewell (Washington, DC), Multitude of Mercies; Michelle Lynne Coons (California), Let’s Talk; Marquita Edwards (Illinois), Chances; Marcus F. Eubanks & Brandon Joseph (Arkansas), Conscious Cafe; Andrea Greer & Simone Murray (New York), Once; Charmain Johnson (Florida), Victims; Joie Lee (New York), Positive; Gregory Roberts (Illinois), The Edge Of The Looking Glass; Yasin Shabazz (Georgia), The Release Of Jackie Davis; and Lanette Ware-Bushfield (New York), Gisele and Me.

“Given recent data released by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it is clear that AIDS has reached a level that we can no longer ignore,” commented Phill Wilson, Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. “The RIU/BASS film competition is another attempt to sound the alarm and mobilize the troops in an effort to finally put an end to this tragedy.”

“BET is extremely proud of both the success and impact the RIU/BASS film competition has had in depicting the extent of HIV/AIDS within the African-American community,” said Kelli Lawson, BET’s Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing. “We look forward to continuing to promote HIV/AIDS awareness while also extending the unique opportunity for talented filmmakers to showcase their amazing work.”

“The impressive mix of powerful stories illustrates the magnitude and depth of the impact HIV/AIDS is having on African Americans throughout the U.S.” said Tina Hoff, Vice President and Director of Entertainment Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“HIV/AIDS clearly creates yet another hurdle for African-American women in their struggle to improve the socioeconomic outlook for themselves and their families,” said Debra Roth, Director of Communication and Marketing for the YWCA USA. “As the YWCA USA works to eliminate racism and empower women, we are very conscious of any influence that stands between these women and their full potential. We hope that our sponsorship of this film contest raises awareness, detection and treatment of this disease.”

The winner will be announced on August 8, 2005, and the winning film will televise on the BET network around World AIDS Day (December 1, 2005). This year’s RIU/BASS film competition follows a successful first year of notable awards and accolades for its two winning films, “Walking on Sunshine” and “Tangy’s Song!”, including the 2005 Cable Positive Award for Outstanding Film/Movie and a 2005 NAACP Image Award nomination for “Walking on Sunshine”; and a Bronze Telly Award for “Tangy’s Song!”.

HIV/AIDS continues to devastate Black communities across the globe. It is a leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 and is the top cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 – 34. Although African Americans represent only 13% of the U.S. population, they accounted for approximately half (49%) of AIDS diagnosis in 2003.

ABOUT BET
BET, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), is the nation’s leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs programming for the African-American audience. The BET Network reaches more than 80 million households according to Nielsen media research, and can be seen in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. BET is the dominant consumer brand in the urban marketplace with a diverse group of branded businesses: BET.com, the Number 1 Internet portal for African Americans; BET Digital Networks – BET Jazz, BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Event Productions, specializing in a full range of event production services, including event management, venue selection, talent recruitment, sound, lighting and stage production; and BET Books, the nation’s leading publisher of African-American themed romance novels under the Arabesque imprint which also publishes compelling fiction under the Sepia imprint and inspirational fiction and nonfiction under the New Spirit imprint.

ABOUT THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE
The Black AIDS Institute is a training and mobilization center focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute’s mission is to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV. The Institute interprets public and private sector HIV policies, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance, disseminates information and provides advocacy from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.

ABOUT THE HENRY J. KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health issues to policymakers, the media, and the general public. It is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries. Information on HIV/AIDS is available at www.kff.org, and a daily news summary report on developments in HIV/AIDS is available on www.kaisernetwork.org, the Foundation’s free health information service.

ABOUT YWCA USA
Founded in 1858 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the YWCA is a women’s membership movement whose mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. Strengthened by diversity, the YWCA draws together members who strive to create opportunities for women’s growth, leadership and power to attain a common vision: peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people. The YWCA represents approximately 2 million women, girls and their families in the United States and 25 million women worldwide. The YWCA has nearly 300 associations throughout the United States. The World YWCA is at work in more than 100 other countries. For information about the YWCA, visit our Web site, http://www.ywca.org, or contact the YWCA USA at 202-467-0801.

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