Freelancers working behind the camera in news and current affairs were honoured last night at the 2016 Rory Peck Awards, sponsored by Sony Professional.


The Rory Peck Award for News was presented to Greek video journalist Will Vassilopoulos for Fear and Desperation: Refugees and Migrants Pour into Greece, commissioned by Agence France Presse (AFP). Vassilopoulos’ footage, shot between October 2015 and March 2016, shows desperate migrants and refugees arriving on the island of Lesbos in overcrowded boats and rubber dinghies and their rescue from open water in the middle of the night. He also covered events at the makeshift Idomeni camp on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia. The Judges said “Images from the Med have become so familiar there’s a danger of image fatigue, but these stood out. Will held his shots, let them breathe and evolve, leaving his sequences long so you really got the arc of the story.” He received his award from James Mates, Europe Editor for ITV News and Chair of the News jury.


The Rory Peck Award for News Features was won by Italian freelancer Marco Salustro for Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die, commissioned and broadcast by VICE News.  Shot in June 2015, his film reveals the sub-human conditions inside unofficial detention camps run by local militia in Tripoli, and the abuse and mistreatment of migrants.  The judges said of Salustro’s film: “You got a real sense of the fear, insecurity and lack of hope these migrants have. There’s no UN agency to save or support them. No government really to help them either. They are trapped in this limbo. You don’t just walk away from this film and forget it instantly, it really stays with you.”  He collected his award from filmmaker Brian Woods of True Vision Productions, who chaired the News Features jury.


The Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs was collected by German freelance filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen for Children on the Frontline: the Escape, his second film about the family of a leading rebel commander in Aleppo. The film follows the fortunes of the three young sisters, their brother and mother after the capture of their father by ISIS, as they leave their war ravaged home to embark on new lives as refugees in Goslar, Germany. Judges said: “The way this film draws you into the complex, quite desperate and also quite hopeful inner life of this one family is breath-taking. It’s honest, emotional, intimate and poetic. This is a touching documentary from a mature and responsible filmmaker who has made a film that we all need to see at this time.” The film was part self-funded. It was produced by ITN productions for Channel 4 in association with ZDF and PBS Frontline. The award was presented by Michael Harrit, Marketing Director Media Solutions, Sony Professional Solutions, Europe, who was also on the jury.


Freelance fixer ‘Angel’ Istek Alcu was presented with the Martin Adler Prize, which honours the outstanding contributions made by local freelance journalists. Angel, who lives and works in Diyarbikar in the Kurdish, south-east area of Turkey, is regarded as one of the most brave, trusted and knowledgeable fixers in region.


Tina Carr, Director of the Rory Peck Trust, said “Tonight’s winners and finalists clearly show that some of the very best work in today’s news and current affairs is being produced by freelancers from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. This evening is a chance to celebrate such diversity and talent. It is also a reminder that freelancers are at the heart of independent journalism. With journalism increasingly under attack all over the world we need to support and protect these brave, talented and diverse freelancers for the benefit of us all.”


Pictured: Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die

Staff Reporter

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