Finalist, Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs

Medyan Dairieh (Palestinian)

June 2014, Syria and Iraq

The Islamic State

Commissioned and broadcast by Vice News

After months of negotiation, planning and evaluation, Medyan Dairieh gained access to the Islamic State’s power base in Raqqa on the day the group declared its self-proclaimed caliphate. He went on to spend three weeks embedded with them – the first journalist to do so.

We see aspects of the group’s daily workings: street patrols, Sharia courts and hear from prisoners and frontline fighters. The judges were united in their praise for his “phenomenal access” and the endeavor behind it.

Medyan has over fifteen years’ experience covering conflicts across the Middle East. He studied journalism at Baghdad University and photography at Marmaris University, Turkey. During the Libyan uprising in 2011, he was one of the first journalists to enter Tripoli, living with the rebels for months and documenting their battles first-hand. He has won numerous awards for his work. He is currently based in Brighton, UK.

Judges Comments

"It is an extraordinary film. When everyone else was beginning to discover that IS existed, he was inside and filming with them."


"Phenomenal access but sober, restrained presentation. The every-day-ness was very revealing, it told me something I didn't know. I thought very highly of it."