Two films from east Aleppo and one from Mosul took the top prizes at the The Rory Peck Awards 2017, which celebrates the work of freelancers working behind the camera in news and current affairs.

Photographic work from Burma was also honoured in the ceremony last night at Sadler’s Wells hosted by BBC’s Lyse Doucet and NBC’s Katy Tur.

The Rory Peck Award for News, sponsored by Google, was presented to Syrian camerawoman Waad Al Kateab for her Channel 4 News report Inside Aleppo: The Last Hospital (click link to see film). Filmed in Al-Kuds hospital in November 2016, it captures the daily horrors of civilians and families trapped in the city’s diminishing enclave.  Judges called her report, “An exemplary piece of journalism”. “Not one shot is fired yet Waad shows us so powerfully the horrors of war.”

The Rory Peck Award for News Features was won by French freelance cameraman and filmmaker  Oliver Sarbil for Battle for Mosul, an intimate and unvarnished study of the slow and grinding battle to free the people of Mosul from so-called Islamic State, told through the eyes of a group of young men from Iraq’s 1st Battalion. Broadcast by Channel 4 News, judges praised Oliver – “a brilliant observer” – for his “incredible footage and intimate insights into real life in Mosul.” “It’s captivating, great work”, they said.

The Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs was won by Siraj Al Deen Al Omar, Mojahed Abo Al Jood, Basim Ayyoubi, Ahmad Hashisho, four young Syrian video journalists, for their BBC Arabic film Goodbye Aleppo. The film is their personal story of the fall of East Aleppo at the end of 2016, revealing what life is like for a population under siege as their city is about to fall. Judges said it is “The most intimate, gripping and moving work we could see of these last days in Aleppo.” “ It is like a love story, a love diary, to their city.  A superb, a tremendous film.”

The Martin Adler Prize, sponsored by Hexagon, was presented to Burmese photographer, Minzayar Oo, in recognition of his work in Myanmar.  This special prize honours a local freelancer who has made a significant contribution to newsgathering, either through a single story or body of work, but who is largely un-recognised by the international news media. He is the first photographer to receive the prize.

Tina Carr, Director of the Rory Peck Trust said, “These awards are all about freelancers and the powerful work that they produce. But as we celebrate their achievements we are also aware that the challenges they face are changing, growing, and coming from new sources. After 22 years, the mission of the Rory Peck Trust remains the same: to support freelance journalists through these challenges, and help them to become stronger and more resilient.”

Staff Reporter

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