Concluding an extensive national call for submissions and thorough review process, BET, the Black AIDS Institute, Kaiser Family Foundation and YWCA proudly announce today that “Let’s Talk” and “Multitude of Mercies” are the two winning screenplays of the 2nd Annual Rap-It-Up/Black AIDS Short Subject Film Competition (RIU/BASS).

After a thorough review and judging of the more than 200 entries by a committee of health educators, entertainment executives and celebrities, the final decision was unanimous to choose two winners for their exceptional entries in this year’s RIU/BASS film competition.

The phenomenal writing team of Drew Anderson, Justin Follin, Charneice Fox and Michelle Sewell from Washington, DC, won for their stirring screenplay “Multitude of Mercies,” a story depicting how a young Black minister personally deals with HIV/AIDS in his church.

Michelle Lynne Coons of Los Angeles also won for her poignant screenplay, “Let’s Talk,” which tackles a difficult subject facing many couples today – how to raise the issue of HIV testing in the context of a burgeoning relationship.

Both screenplays will be produced into short films to debut on BET on World AIDS Day (December 1, 2005) and National HIV Testing Day (June 27, 2006) respectively.

The RIU/BASS Film Competition was first launched in January 2004 to raise awareness about HIV prevention, testing, treatment and the impact of HIV/AIDS in Black communities in the United States. HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death for African Americans between the ages of 25 – 44 and is the top cause of death for African-American women between the ages of 25 – 34.

“We are proud of the notable success this film competition has garnered over the last year as part of our overall effort to inform our viewers about HIV/AIDS,” said Reginald Hudlin, BET’s President of Entertainment. “In addition to providing a platform for potential filmmakers to showcase their work, it also provides an invaluable vehicle for the network to educate our audiences about this epidemic.”

“As an actor, I know the tremendous power and influence a film has on its viewers,” said Hill Harper, actor and RIU/BASS judge. “After reviewing the many thought-provoking entries, I look forward to seeing the winning films’ potential impact in changing someone’s sexual behavior or outlook on HIV/AIDS. Because of that, I’m proud to have been a part of this overall effort to educate the community about the devastating effects of this deadly disease.”

“It will require a diversity of Black voices to end the AIDS epidemic in Black communities,” stated Phill Wilson, Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. “The RIU/BASS film competition is an attempt to provide a creative forum for some of those voices. Both ‘Multitude of Mercies’ and ‘Let’s Talk’ add a much needed perspective to the HIV/AIDS discourse in Black America.”

“As HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately impact African Americans, stories like ‘Multitude of Mercies’ and ‘Let’s Talk’ help raise awareness and reduce stigma,” said Tina Hoff, Vice President and Director of Entertainment Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The RIU/BASS Film Competition is a part of BET’s Rap- It-Up HIV/AIDS corporate initiative, a public education partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation that has been informing young adults about HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) since 1998. To date, BET’s Rap-It-Up has tested over 8,000 young people for HIV, managed over one million calls to the Rap-It-Up toll-free hotline, hosted teen forums for over 9,200 youth in over 29 markets nationwide, and reached millions of viewers through HIV-related programming, including award-winning news specials, documentaries and public service announcements (PSAs).

About BETBET, 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:, 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.

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About the Henry J. Kaiser Family FoundationThe 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 on its website, and a daily news summary report on developments in HIV/AIDS is available on KaiserNetwork.or g < t=keakhobab.0.gt8jhobab.mn4af8n6.6755& >, the Foundation’s free health information service.

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About YWCA USAFounded 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 or contact the YWCA USA at 202- 467-0801.

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About the Black AIDS InstituteThe 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.

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