Student film project is finalist in national CNN contest

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KALAMAZOO--Two film students at Western Michigan University make up one of five teams from colleges around the country selected by CNN, Reporters Without Borders USA and the Ford Foundation as finalists in a video contest on press freedom.

Cassandra Stagner, a sophomore from Troy, Mich., and Wil Granaderos, a sophomore from Portage, Mich., submitted a video public service announcement they created in the "For Press Freedom" video contest, a nationwide competition challenging university students to create a video PSA. The two WMU students are film, video and media studies majors.

Working on their own outside of class, Stagner and Granaderos made a 50-second PSA titled "World Press Freedom" and submitted it for the contest in March.

The winning video will be announced April 19 and will be aired by CNN on World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In addition to the WMU team, other finalists came from American University, Stony Brook University, Tennessee State University and Wichita State University.

An international jury of journalists and human rights defenders will select the winning video based on quality, creativity, message and impact. The winners will be invited to attend the World Press Freedom Day party at CNN in New York where they will be recognized for their video among journalists and human rights activists. The "For Press Freedom" video contest is made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

The jury members will include:

  • CNN anchor Anderson Cooper
  • Mark Whitaker, CNN executive vice-president and managing editor
  • Calvin Sims from the Ford Foundation
  • Reporters Without Borders Executive Director Olivier Basille
  • Reporters Without Borders USA Chairman Peter O. Price
  • Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi
  • Bashana Abeywardane of Sri Lanka's Journalists for Democracy
  • Bahraini journalist Nada Alwadi
  • Danfung Dennis, Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker of "Hell and Back Again"