The courage and professionalism of freelance journalists who risk their lives to provide broadcast news footage from around the world was recognised last night at the Rory Peck Awards.
The organisers said that this year’s shortlist was ‘dominated by the traumatic human consequences of conflict, abuse, political corruption and natural disaster on ordinary families – and most of all, children”.
Full details of this year’s winners (provided by the Rory Peck Trust):
Kazbek Basayev, 2009 Rory Peck News Award winner
Commissioned and broadcast by Reuters Video News, Kazbek Basayev’s film of the South Ossetia Conflict provided the first coverage of burning Georgian villages in territory taken under Russian/Ossetian control. The Russian cameraman entered Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, with the first wave of Russian troops in August 2008. He captured a remarkable series of images to reveal the human casualties of war – the dead and injured soldiers and civilians, shocked and displaced survivors in devastated streets.
The judges praised the quality of Basayev’s camerawork and said:”He was dealing with a population under stress, a foreign power, tanks, and burning buildings but in the middle of all that he managed to convey the human face of conflict with a series of thoughtful and beautifully composed shots.”
‘Z’and ‘T”, 2009 Rory Peck Features Award winner
Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) cameramen ‘Z’and ‘T’risked a 30 year jail sentence to secretly film the lives of eight Burmese children orphaned by Cyclone Nargis. As country officials refused outside aid and told the population not to ‘dwell on sadness’their film, Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone, reveals the reality of day-to-day life for Burmese children, struggling to rebuild their lives as the bones of friends and family lie scattered in adjacent fields. It was shot in Myanmar / Burma between May 2008 – March 2009 for Quicksilver Media and broadcast on Channel 4 Dispatches.
“Despite all the dangers, they still created a film narrative,’said the judges. ‘It was a journey for each of the individual families – and you went on that journey with them.”
Joost van der Valk, 2009 Sony Professional Impact Award winner
In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine – and branded witches. Saving Africa’s Witch Children, part self-funded by Dutch filmmaker van der Valk, follows the work of Englishman Gary Foxcroft who has devoted his life to helping the so-called ‘witch’children who are abandoned, tortured, starved and sometimes murdered. Its broadcast led to the arrest of several pastors and pushed the local state government to declare the branding of children as witches illegal. The 60-minute piece, which was shot between February and May, 2008 for Red Rebel Films and Channel 4 Dispatches, has previously won a BAFTA and an International Emmy for Current Affairs.
Commending this powerful and gripping film the judges said: “Its subtle and restrained camerawork doesn’t get in the way of telling what is a difficult and harrowing story.”
Martin Adler Prize: Awarded jointly to three Gaza freelances to honour all freelances working in Gaza under difficult and dangerous circumstances
Talal Aba Rahma (pictured)
Freelance reporter, producer & cameraman, Gaza
Talal has been a freelance cameraman, field producer and reporter for many years, working regularly for CNN and France 2. During this year’s Israeli offensive, after securing his own family, he dedicated himself to reporting the information and shooting pictures from the Gaza Strip.
“Talal is a priceless commodity: a producer who is not only well connected, honest and way ahead of the curve, but is a journalist first and foremost.” – John Vause, CNN International Correspondent
Freelance fixer, driver & field producer, Gaza
Raed Athemneh has worked alongside many freelances and international news crews, including the BBC, ARD, Al Jazeera English, covering breaking news and investigative features in the Gaza Strip for the past seven years. The stories he has helped to produce have been broadcast internationally and have made the front pages of the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.
“Raed personifies the finest qualities of front line journalism; courage, fairness, humanity, and an unblinking commitment to getting the story out to the world.” – George Azar, freelance producer/director
Freelance cameraman, producer & director, Gaza
Ashraf worked for Channel 4 News inside Gaza as the Israeli Defence force first bombed and then invaded the strip in December 2008 and January 2009.
“Ashraf co-ordinated and produced our coverage from inside providing the programme us with the most compelling and high quality material of the fears of ordinary Gazans, their suffering and the aftermath of the military action. On the third day of working for us Ashraf took a call from his family that his house had been hit and his brother was badly injured. He took the conscious decision to film the sequence of events as he returned home.” – Ben de Pear, foreign editor, Channel 4 News