Finalist, Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs

Marcel Mettelsiefen (German)

July 2013 - April 2016 , Syria, Turkey and Germany

Children on the Frontline: The Escape

Part self-funded. ITN Productions for Channel 4 Dispatches in association with ZDF and WGBH/Frontline

In 2013, Marcel spent nine months filming the moving story of the children of a leading rebel commander whose lives had been changed forever by the war in Syria. In this second film, he returns to follow the fortunes of the three young sisters and their brother after the capture of their father by ISIS.

He tells a story of loss, resilience and ultimately hope, as their mother decides they must leave their home and the ruins of their lives in the city they had once loved. The film follows their escape to Turkey and their new lives as refugees in the sleepy town of Goslar in Germany.



Marcel Mettelsiefen is a photojournalist, documentary filmmaker and co-publisher of zenith Magazine. He has worked for international news agencies in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. In 2004 he started medicine school in Berlin. In 2009 he interrupted his studies to go to Afghanistan to work on several photo reportage projects. His photos from that time appear in a book about the controversial airstrike on Kunduz which killed over 100 civilians.

Marcel has been covering the Arab Spring and Syria specifically since April 2011. Since then he has returned to the war-torn country more than twenty times. His reports from Syria have aired on Channel4, PBS frontline, CNN, ARD, ZDF, Al Jazeera and Canal+.

Judges Comments

"The way this film draws you into the complex, quite desperate and also quite hopeful inner life of this one family is breathtaking. The camerawork is beautiful, even when the subjects are doing the most mundane things. It’s honest, emotional, intimate and poetic.

It’s hard to get children to talk openly and to talk authentically and he handled that so delicately, giving us the best of them, but also bringing out the sadness and the darkness in them too. I cried; it simply blew my mind. 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."