For the second year in a row, Santa Barbara High School student on-the-rise Erik Choquette has won the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation‘s Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest – the videos needed to address how a nuclear weapon-free world can be realized by 2020, and how this neutralization can be sustained. The contest, in its second year after transitioning from essay form, received 120 submissions on the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s YouTube contest-entry site, up from only twelve entries last year.

Director of Programs Rick Wayman said the NAPF is “really excited to develop a presence online; with things like the video contest, the foundation is able to reach different, previously unreachable groups,” with the goal of finding “some fresh ideas on nuclear disarmament issues and approaches.”At the very least, this contest has sparked the interest of the formerly uninvolved; Choquette said “I had never paid much attention to nuclear disarmament until the first contest in 2008 : from then on it’s been an issue that I follow.”

The most effective recruiting tool for the contest – in conjunction with advertisements at film schools and events – was a listing on a website that lists educational scholarships. The contest awards cash prizes to the top three videos, with Choquette receiving a cool $1,000 for first place, and the three videos will all be included in NAPF’s annual free DVD, an advocating tool for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Choquette’s winning video contextualizes the issue of nuclear weaponry, its imperative opening: “To comprehend the impact of nuclear weapons in our society today, we must first look back at how they were introduced to the world,” preceeding an examination of why nuclear weapons were created and why they exist today. As Choquette explained, “We need to understand them in order to get rid of them; we need to understand the conditions under which they were created, why they were used, and how they still relate to the political and social relationships among nations today.”

Choquette is currently working on other films as well, which he will send with his college applications, and he is hoping to enter one of them – originally written in collaboration with Jeff Arch for last year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s High School Screenwriting Competition – into the short film divisions of film festivals. For Choquette, “Film-making is such a passion, and has been for so long, that I’ll never miss a chance to take part in doing what I love.”

The NAPF is hosting Sadako Peace Day, which will memorialize 12-year-old Sadako Sasaki, who died of radiation poisoning from the bombing of Hiroshima. The ceremony will include the poetry of several local poets, the music of Bob Sedivy, and the words of NAPF co-founder and president David Krieger. It will take place on August 6 at the Sadako Peace Garden at La Casa de Maria, 800 El Bosque Road, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.


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