Winners and Finalists:

Rory Peck Award

For Hard News

Name: Sorious Samura (Winner)
Nationality: Sierra Leonean
Entry Title: January 6th – Invasion of Freetown
Date Shot: January-February 1999
Self-funded. Broadcast internationally. 

When rebels entered Freetown on January 6th 1999, they threatened to kill every journalist. Speaking about his decision to film despite these dangers, Samura stated "I said to myself if no-one is going out to gather these materials, I will. That's how I jumped out". On the second day of their arrival, he ventured out with his camera. He was caught, taken into a rebel base, punished and finally allowed to film on condition that if rebels appeared in any of the shots he should consider himself a dead man. Hiding behind windows, dodging sniper fire in the streets, and without a bullet-proof vest, Samura continued to film, determined to record what was happening for the outside world.


Sorious continues to work as a freelance cameraman and filmmaker. Over the past fifteen years he has produced a number of award-winning documentaries focusing on Sierra Leone and West Africa. He is the director for Insight News TV, a UK-based production company. He currently lives in London.



Name: Tony Birtley
Nationality: British
Entry Title: Inside Kosovo with the KLA
Date Shot: April 1999
Commissioned and broadcast by Channel Four News (ITN)


Three weeks into NATO’s bombardment of Yugoslavia, Tony Birtley became the first British journalist to cross back into Kosovo. He linked up with the KLA and spent 8 days with them around the border town of Kosare, the site of some of the worst massacres carried out by Serbs towards Albanians. His film, often shot whilst under fire and in extremely difficult terrain, shows that whilst NATO remained committed to air attacks, the KLA - relying on ill-equipped and virtually untrained soldiers - were waging a guerrilla war on the ground.

Tony now works as a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera English, and was formerly their Asia correspondent. You can visit his Al Jazeera profile here.



Rory Peck Award

For Features

Name: Richard Herring/ Stuart Tanner (Winners)
Nationality: British
Entry Title: Dispatches: Death on the Silk Road
Date Shot: July-August 1998
Direct TV for Channel Four Television.

The region of Xinjiang, home to 1 million non-Chinese, is forbidden to foreign journalists. Here, between 1964 and 1996, the Chinese government carried out a massive nuclear test programme, with a devastating effect of the population. The Chinese government’s disregard for them is the subject of Hering and Tanner’s film. Working undercover in China and Turkey, it took a year to find their contacts and make sure they were safe. If they, or anyone suspected of aiding them, were caught they risked imprisonment, or even execution.


Direct TV was formed in 1994 by Richard Hering and Stuart Tanner. Their first joint broadcast project, The Mahogany Trail (1997) was awarded the Bill Travers Insight Award and their 1997 Channel Four News film on ethnic conflict in China won the 1998 Amnesty International Award. Stuart now works as a professor at the Maharishi University of Management, Iowa. Richard still works as a freelance videojournalist, journalist and author. 

Name: Elizabeth C Jones
Nationality: Canadian
Entry Title: Congo- a Road to Nowhere?
Date Shot: April 1999
Self-funded. Broadcast by BBC.

In March 1998 rebel forces were advancing into Katanga province, DRC, whilst imploding politically. This was a story that Elizabeth Jones wanted to cover. She waited three weeks at Goma airport to be squeezed onto a military aircraft heading to the frontline, before being turned back on arrival because the rebels had not been told she was coming. Narrowly avoiding being shot down as the rebels failed to identify the aircraft she was on, Elizabeth made it to the southern front only to be told that she would have to walk through the bush for two days to reach the fighting – which, of course, she did.

Elizabeth C. Jones continues to work as a freelance film maker and producer, and has covered many of the world’s recent conflicts. She has been nominated numerous times for a Rory Peck Award.



 Choice Award

Jan Van Benthem (Winner)

As Chief Editor of 2 Vangaag in Holland, Jan was one of the world’s biggest buyers of freelancers’ work at the time – and one of its greatest advocates. As a consequence, he was nominated for his support of the industry.

Jan now works as a foreign commentator at Nederlands Dagblad, writing opinion pieces and editorials.


Lidija Zelovic

Lidja worked as a field producer and fixer in the Balkans during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. She was nominated by her fellow freelancers for her bravery and calm in the face of danger whilst operating in these difficult environments. She was with a BBC crew filming in Montenegro when they were taken at gunpoint to a nearby army barracks, threatened, interrogated and accused of espionage. Her colleagues credit a large part of their release to Lidija's steadfast resolve in the face of this treatment. 

She currently co-runs Zelovic productions, a documentary film and TV company based in the Netherlands.


Jonathan Miller

Jonathan was nominated for his exceptional talent and passion as a cameraman, specifically in relation to his 1999 story on the aids epidemic in Zambia. His story drew attention to a country where aids was killing over 200 people a day, and where the intermittent availability of treatment only increased the risk of a lethal new strain of drug-resistant HIV.

Jonathan now works as the Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4, and has won four Royal Television Society awards for his work for C4 News. You can visit his Channel 4 profile here.


Kareem Dergham

Kareem received unprecedented praise for his work as a driver for ABC News during the TWA Hijacking and the Israeli War. In April 1999, he came close to losing his life. Journalists had gathered outside Arnoun, a town just four miles from the Israeli border that has been sealed off by soldiers. Troops tried to disperse them with smoke genades and threats, before opening fire. Kareem was shot in the back. A rubber coated metal bullet was removed in hospital –  embedded just half an inch from his spine. “Amazingly,” says his nominator, “he was back in the office just a few weeks after coming so close to death.”