Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields from ITN Productions won both the Television and Documentary Award at last night's One World Media Awards.
The Channel 4 special investigation, fronted by Jon Snow, into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka was described by the two juries as “a searing piece of rigorous and unflinching journalism” and “an extraordinary and powerful piece of television testimony that forensically analysed a terrible atrocity and built a compelling case to be answered.” The jury pointed to the international impact of the film, forcing the issue onto the international agenda and commended the filmmakers for persisting with the story in the face of systematic opposition.
A group of young Ethiopian filmmakers from the back streets of Addis Ababa has won the Special Award, sponsored by the Thomson Media Foundation, which is awarded to an outstanding project working on the ground in the developing world where media activity has made a real impact on people's lives.
Ethiopian production company Gem TV, is staffed by filmmakers who were recruited as young people from among the poorest communities in Addis Ababa and taught filmmaking. Originally conceived as a community filmmaking project, Gem TV has gone on to establish itself as one of Ethiopia’s top TV production companies, making festival-winning documentaries and films for international NGOs.
Channel 4’s Jamal Osman was named Journalist of the Year, sponsored by Concern Worldwide UK, for his series of dispatches from Somalia. Osman’s winning submissions included a report about a Somalian runner determined to compete in the London Olympics which highlighted some of the difficulties of daily life in Mogadishu, coverage of the drought in south-central Somalia for which he followed the plight of one extended family, and sensitive, on-camera interviews with people who have lived through incredible hardship. The jury praised Osman’s use of imaginative storytelling and packaging to convey complex themes, often finding vivid individual stories to illuminate his reports and bringing international attention to bear on a range of issues affecting an important but under-reported part of the world.
The inaugural News Award for hard-hitting news pieces in print, broadcast or online, was awarded to two winners, including ITV1 News for their report on the Somalian famine from Hagadera Hospital.
BBC Two picked up the Popular Features Award for Toughest Place to be a Binman, following a London dustman who spent 10 days living and working in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. The judges commended it for being accessible, original in its approach and with a wide appeal to a broad audience.
The Drama Award, which recognises the role of the silver screen and television drama in communicating issues about the developing world, was scooped by South African feature film, Otelo Burning (dir. Sara Blecher, Otelo Burning Films). Set in 1989 against a backdrop of the end of Apartheid and gang violence, it tells the story of a group of township kids who discover the joy of surfing.
The New Media Award, sponsored by Google, was picked up by charity SOS Children’s Villages for Our Africa - an ambitious project which gets children across the continent from Morocco to South Africa to make their own films about their lives. The jury praised the project for “challenging the cliché of the poverty-stricken African child, demonstrating that children have the same mischievousness and sense of fun the world over”.
The Sustainable Development Award, sponsored by the International Institute for Environment and Development and supported by the European Union, went to feature documentary There Once was an Island, about the impact of climate change on a tiny Polynesian island as it faces a devastating flood.
The Children’s Rights Award is judged by a panel of young people participating in One World Media’s Student Programme. The youth jury awarded the gong to Al Jazeera English for Africa Investigates: Spell of the Albino, which looks at the discrimination and abuse endured by people with albinism in parts of sub-Saharan Africa where there is still a widespread belief that the condition is associated with the supernatural. The film uncovers the plight of two albino children who were subjected to vicious assaults.
The Student Award was won by Zena Merton and Giselle Santos from the London College of Communication for their documentary Bagong Silang – a beautifully shot film about the lives of a resilient and resourceful community in the Philippines who have made a home out of a graveyard.
Marion Bowman, director of One World Media, said: ’We’re celebrating our 25th anniversary this year so it’s impressive to see that despite the pressures that media companies are under there is still cutting edge work being done in the best traditions of journalism and filmmaking. More than ever the public needs to know what’s going on in the rest of the world and our Awards are a way of encouraging and highlighting a diverse, high quality range of work.’