2023 Winner

Jessica Kelly

Under Poisoned Skies
Commissioned by BBC Arabic

“The journalism in this film is first class – genuinely breaking new ground – finding corruption of which we should all be ashamed. Whilst other films deepened our knowledge of global events, this forced us to look at something it’s far more convenient to ignore. The casting, cinematography and storytelling was stunning – at once intimate and universal, quiet and deafening.”

 -Sony Impact Award Jury

Under Poisoned Skies reveals the deadly impact of the oil giants’ toxic air pollution, which puts children at risk of cancer and endangers the planet with hidden greenhouse gas emissions.

The film is an incendiary investigation into modern sacrifice zones in Iraq, where oil companies’ profits are prioritised over human rights, human health and the climate. It uncovers how the oil giants are flaring – burning waste gas during oil extraction – illegally close to communities.

The documentary team goes undercover inside the world’s second largest oil field, Rumaila, run by British oil giant BP, which is heavily guarded by militia and private security firms. Here we meet 18-year-old leukaemia survivor Ali, living in a town where cancer is “as common as the flu”.


Jess Kelly an award-winning journalist, filmmaker and cinematographer who has spent much of the past decade making investigative documentaries in the Middle East.

Jess was nominated for a BAFTA in 2020 for her films, Silicon Valley’s Online Slave Market (BBC Arabic, 2019) and The Schools That Chain Boys (BBC Arabic, 2020). The later, which uncovers systemic child abuse in Qur’an schools in Sudan also won an RTS, an Amnesty, and an ARIJ gold award.

In 2018, Jess directed Palestine Underground (Boiler Room), which documents the underground music scene in the West Bank following trap and electro DJs battling apartheid. In 2021, Jess directed India’s Rape Scandal (Channel 4/PBS).

Under Poisoned Skies (BBC Arabic, 2022) is the work Jess is most proud of. It has won an RTS Award, a OWM Award and a DIG award.