The Rory Peck Trust has announced the finalists of the Rory Peck Awards 2017, its awards dedicated to the work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen in news and current affairs worldwide.
From Aleppo and Mosul to La Paz and Washington, this year’s finalists explore communities under siege and under attack from government, militias and military. The underbelly of war – including alleged war crimes – is also revealed.
In the Rory Peck Award for News, Syrian freelancers Fadi Al Halabi and Adham Al Hussen are finalists for their coverage of the immediate aftermath of a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Northern Syria which killed 92 people, including 33 children.
Syrian camerawoman Waad Al Kateab is shortlisted for her report from East Aleppo’s last functioning hospital, Al Kud’s, where she captures the daily horrors for those trapped in the city’s diminishing enclave. Mstyslav Chernov, from Ukraine, is a finalist for his coverage of the recapture of Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS) by Iraqi forces, which shows the complexities of urban warfare and the plight of civilians caught up in battle.
In the Rory Peck Award for News Features, Iraqi freelancer Ali Arkady – a photojournalist with the VII agency – has been selected for his footage showing members of Iraq’s Interior Ministry Emergency Response Division – a special forces unit – torturing detainees during the campaign against IS. British filmmaker Olly Lambert is shortlisted for his film exploring the daily realities of life for the US media at the White House west wing, as they struggle to report on a Presidency that has quickly labelled them “fake news”. French freelancer Olivier Sarbil is a finalist for portrait of the battle to free the people of Mosul, told through the eyes of a group of young men from Iraq’s 1st Battalion.
In the Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs, four young Syrian freelance journalists, Siraj Al Deen Al Omar, Mojahed Abo Al Jood, Basim Ayyoubi, Ahmad Hashisho are recognised for their story of the fall of East Aleppo, told through their own experiences in documentary, Goodbye Aleppo, which judges described as “a love story to the city they will lose forever”. Dan Fallshaw and Violeta Ayala are finalists for their film following a group of disabled protesters in Bolivia who travel across the Andes to the capital La Paz to lobby for improved rights and benefits where they are met by riot police, tear gas and water cannon. And British producer/director Patrick Wells, another former Rory Peck finalist, is shortlisted for his film investigating torture, execution and the sectarian cleansing of Sunni refugees by Shia militias who are fighting alongside the Iraqi army in their battle to rid the country of IS.
“The work of this year’s Rory Peck Awards finalists show us that brave and truthful journalism is being produced by freelancers across the world and across platforms”, said Tina Carr, Director of the Rory Peck Trust. “As journalists comes under increasing attack, freelancers are always the most vulnerable, especially those with cameras. Many of this year’s finalists have overcome enormous pressures to bring important stories to our attention. Without them our knowledge of what’s happening in the world suffers. They need our support more than ever.”
This year’s winners will be announced at the Rory Peck Awards 2017 ceremony which takes place at Sadler’s Wells on Monday 23rd October.
The full shortlist:
Rory Peck Award for News
Fadi Al Halabi (Syrian) and Adham Al Hussen (Syrian)
Syria: Gasping for Life in Khan Sheikhoun
Filmed in Syria, April 2017
Self-funded. Footage licensed from Aleppo Media Centre (AMC). Broadcast by CNN
On 4th April 2017, a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Northern Syria, killed 92 people, including 33 children, leading to the first US airstrikes against the regime of Bashar al Assad. One month later, CNN broadcast this never-before seen footage of the immediate aftermath of the attack, shot by Syrian freelancers Fadi Al Halabi and Adham Al Hussen who braved extremely difficult conditions to document, in unvarnished close-up, the horrific effects of the attack on the town’s men, women and children. They also capture scenes of chaos at the local hospital and show devastated families burying their loved ones.
Waad Al Kateab (Syrian)
Inside Aleppo: The Last Hospital
Filmed in Syria, November 2016
Commissioned and broadcast by Channel 4 News / ITN
As rebel-held east Aleppo began its fall into the hands of the regime, Syrian freelancer Waad al Kateab was holed up in its last functioning hospital, Al-Quds, filming scenes of the devastation on the city’s civilians. She captures the daily horrors for those trapped in Aleppo’s diminishing enclave – the moment a distraught woman tells how her entire apartment block collapsed on her and her family; the silent, traumatised toddler, her face caked in dust and dried blood. This is a rare glimpse of what thousands of families have gone through in East Aleppo during the last six years.
Mstyslav Chernov (Ukrainian)
Filmed in Iraq, November 2016 – March 2017
Commissioned and broadcast by Associated Press
Mstyslav was embedded with the first division of the Iraqi special forces as they moved into east Mosul in November 2016, encountering fierce resistance from so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters and sending thousands of civilians fleeing. He returned in March, 2017 where Iraqi forces battling IS group militants continued their approach on the mosque in the western part of the city. This series of video stories, shot and edited for Associated Press, shows the difficulties encountered by Iraqi forces, the complexities and dangers of urban warfare and the plight of vulnerable civilians and families caught up in the conflict.
Rory Peck Award for News Features
Ali Arkady (Iraqi)
The Torture Tapes
Filmed in Iraq, October to December 2016
Self-funded. Footage licensed from VII Photo Agency and broadcast on ABC News Nightline
Ali’s footage shows members of Iraq’s Interior Ministry Emergency Response Division – a special forces unit that had been praised by the US – torturing detainees in Mosul during the campaign against IS. Ali had originally embedded with the unit to tell a good news story of sunni and shia muslims fighting together to defeat IS. But after several months he discovered they were torturing detainees and began to document the atrocities with his camera. He released his footage to ABC News after fleeing Iraq and now lives in exile. In August, an investigation by the Iraqi government concluded that clear abuses and violations had been committed by the unit.
Olly Lambert (British)
The President V. The Press
Filmed in United States, February 2017
Commissioned and broadcast by BBC Newsnight
Olly’s film goes behind the scenes at the White House’s west wing to reveal the daily realities of life on the job for America’s media as they struggle to report on a Presidency that has quickly labelled them “fake news”. During a tumultuous week in February, which sees the resignation of Trump’s security advisor, Michael Flynn and Donald Trump call his first solo press conference as President, Olly studies one of the most important fault lines in America’s new US administration – the relationship between the President and the Press – revealing the very real challenges that continue to confront the Washington press corp as Trump declares respected news outlets the “enemies of the people”.
Olivier Sarbil (French)
Battle for Mosul
Filmed in Iraq, October and November 2016
Commissioned and broadcast by Channel 4 News/ITN
Olivier spent six weeks on the frontline in Mosul following a group of young soldiers from the 1st Battalion – a special unit of Iraq’s elite Golden Division – who are spearheading the battle against IS. He follows the soldiers as they push into IS territory, facing fierce resistance from snipers, suicide bombers and shellfire, and shows the daily challenge of hunting ISIS militants who are hiding among the local population. This is an intimate, unvarnished portrait of the slow and grinding battle to free the people of Mosul, told through the eyes of a group of young men fighting for the future of their country.
Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs
Siraj Al Deen Al Omar, Mojahed Abo Al Jood, Basim Ayyoubi, Ahmad Hashisho (Syrian)
Filmed in Syria, November and December 2016
Commissioned and broadcast by BBC Arabic
The story of the fall of East Aleppo told through the personal experiences of four young Syrian journalists. Siraj, Mojahed, Basim and Ahmed were commissioned by the BBC to film themselves and each other during the last days of East Aleppo as the Syrians, Russians, Iranians, and Iran-backed militias took the city from opposition fighters in December 2016. Their cameras reveal what life is like for a population under siege as the city is about to fall, bombarded from the air and encircled by troops. The battle for Aleppo was one of the most important battles in the Syrian civil war. This film captures the immediacy of events through the personal insights of four young men.
Dan Fallshaw (Australian) and Violeta Ayala (Bolivian/Australian)
Filmed in Bolivia, April – August 2016
Produced in collaboration with the Sundance Institute Short Documentary Fund and John D.and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Broadcast by The Guardian
People with disabilities are among the most discriminated against in Bolivia. Dan and Violeta’s film follows a determined group of activists as they cross the Andes into the country’s capital, La Paz, to lobby for improved rights and benefits. They capture violent scenes as the protesters in wheelchairs set up camp a block away from the city’s main plaza and are met by riot shields, tear gas and water cannon. For the first time in Bolivia’s history, police erect three meter high barricades, station tanks and hundreds of riot officers to stop the protesters from entering the plaza. This is the story of an extraordinary fight between a government and a group of citizens.
Patrick Wells (British)
ISIS and the Battle for Iraq
Filmed in Iraq, October – December 2016
Quicksilver Media for Channel 4 Dispatches
As Shia militias fight alongside the Iraqi army to rid the country of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Patrick’s film investigates allegations of torture, execution and sectarian cleansing of Sunni refugees by the militias. With reporter Ramita Navai and producer Mais Albayaa, Patrick spent more than a year gaining access to high level whistleblowers and eyewitnesses to bring to light new information about abuses against Sunni civilians and the way in which Shia Militias are infiltrating the Iraqi government and security forces to brutally settle sectarian and historic scores. The film also lifts the lid on a network of secret prisons being run by the militias, in which innocent people are being tortured and killed.
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