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Daniel Dembélé Returns To Mali To Electrify Rural West Africa (VIDEO)

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Link TV, one of the nation's largest independent television broadcasters devoted to providing diverse global perspectives on news, current events, and world culture, recently launched ViewChange.org, a new multimedia website to spark progress in improving the lives of people in developing countries.

As part of the launch, ViewChange held an online, short film contest focused on stories showing progress in global development. In all, Link TV named six winners out of 136 entries, representing each of the film contest's six categories. Each winner received a category prize of $5,000 and the Grand Prize winner received an additional $25,000. All the winning filmmakers featured here discuss what compelled them to make their films. All the ViewChange films can be viewed here.

Film: Burning in the Sun
Category: Innovation
Filmmaker: Cambria Matlow & Morgan Robinson

Founding a small business is something that is deeply embedded in American and European culture, a topic to which many can relate. But most have never seen this universal kind of effort take place in Africa, traditionally marked out by the media as the land of the starving, the war ravaged and the hopeless. That is what the protagonist in our film sets out to do.

Twenty-six-year-old charmer Daniel Dembélé is equal parts West African and European, and looking to make his mark on the world. Seizing the moment at a crossroads in his life, Daniel decides to return to his homeland in Mali and start a local business building solar panels -- the first of its kind in the sun-drenched nation. Daniel's goal is to electrify the households of rural communities, 99 percent of which live without power. Burning the Sun tells the story of Daniel's journey growing the budding idea into a viable company and of the business' impact on Daniel's first customers in the tiny village of Banko. Taking controversial stances on climate change, poverty, and African self-sufficiency, the film explores what it means to grow up as a man, and what it takes to prosper as a nation.

In our portrayal of Daniel, who undertakes a familiar effort in an unfamiliar environment, we attempt to open the door to what is viewed as possible in Africa, and update western cultural awareness with a profound dose of optimism. For us, Daniel's work shatters notions of the need for African dependence on outside aid and embraces the view that ultimately it is Africans who will develop Africa in their own way.
 
Now more than ever before, people around the world have come to see green-collar jobs as an absolute necessity for survival in our rapidly changing economies and environments.  Daniel's daring, charisma and intelligence remind us of the sort of leadership required around the globe that will encourage this level of transformative change. It is important to us for the film to showcase him as an African leader, not only of his country, but as a global trendsetter. So not only do viewers come away with a greater understanding of the kind of development that makes the most sense for Africa, but a sense of profound inspiration that they can take the action they have seen and apply it in their own communities.
 
Burning in the Sun is often labeled as a film that is 'African' or 'Environmental', but our goal in telling this particular story is to desegregate these two topics, and to encourage disparate conversations to join together in dialogue, and start a new discussion on the world stage. Strikingly beautiful, surprisingly emotional, and a revolution of ideas, the film provides a new-school portrait of a 'Green Africa' capable of inspiring worldwide emulation.