In the Congo, park rangers are standing up to oil companies that find underhand ways to buy-up national parks. In Liberia, musicians are singing about corruption in government and being beaten by the police for it. In Russia, brave photographers are documenting pervasive graft in everyday life. In the UK, activists are mapping aid flows to improve transparency and hold donor organizations accountable for their promises.
The Oscars this weekend will honor the very best actors, producers, directors and musicians in the film industry for their incredible work. We love movies like The Imitation Game and Birdman because they take us away—just for a few hours—from our daily realities. But what if your daily reality was a government that stole your tax dollars or excluded you from any kind of decisions affecting your family? What if your time was spent defending your property rights or fighting for a fair wage from corrupt corporations? We can cheer during our favorite movies, but what if no-one ever listened to your voice on the things that really matter to you?
These are real problems, and with the Honesty Oscars we want to highlight and celebrate the real heroes who are finding ways to fight corruption, build accountability and make life more fair and equal for everyone. This matters because it is literally life or death: ONE estimates that if we managed to eliminate corruption it would save the lives of 3.6 million people every year. That is more than 2X the number of people around the world that die of HIV/AIDS each year.
Our Honesty Oscars nominees will engage and inspire you just as much as Benedict Cumberbatch or Reese Witherspoon. Vote now in the “Best Picture” category for The Perfect Dictatorship, for example, a hilarious satirical film about a corrupt governor in Mexico; or cast your ballot in “Best Leading Activist” for Boniface Mwangi, a crusading Kenyan activist who uses art to call for social change. For “Best Activist Anthem” you could choose Revolution by Latragram, a haunting song about the lack of justice and inequality in Spain; or in the “Best Special Effects” category you might like Global Witness’ map linking anonymous companies and their victims. For those photo and data visualization buffs out there, check out our nominees in the “Best Visual Effects” category like this Instagram mash-up of the Ukrainian revolution, an uprising fuelled by discontent with corruption.
Linking the ideas of honesty, integrity and accountability to entertainment allows us to give these nominees some of the attention they deserve for their important, tireless and often very dangerous work. So join us today on the red carpet! Vote here for your favorite entries in the Honesty Oscars until Monday, February 23 at 9AM. Which is the best anti-corruption film or song? Who do you think is the most deserving honesty activist? Vote now! Prada gowns and Dior tuxedos are optional.
Blair Glencorse is Executive Director and Anne Sophie Ranjbar is Associate Director of the Accountability Lab, an organization that finds creative ways to help citizens build accountability around the world. Follow the Lab on Twitter.