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Winners of the 2009 Rory Peck Awards Announced

Winners of the 2009 Rory Peck Awards Announced

LONDON, 20th November 2009 – The Rory Peck Trust celebrated the skill, courage and enterprise of freelance news and current affairs cameramen in a major award ceremony last night. 

Burmese undercover team “Z” and “T” were honoured with the Rory Peck 2009 Award for Features, which recognises in-depth stories that look beyond the immediacy of news, and Russian cameraman Kazbek Basayev won the Rory Peck Award for News, which focuses on the immediacy of a news story. 

Joost van der Valk won the 2009 Sony Professional Impact Award which honours freelance cameramen and women whose images raise humanitarian issues, have an international impact and lead to a change in perception or policy.

This year’s shortlist was a very strong line up, dominated by strong human stories that revealed the consequences of conflict, abuse, political corruption and natural disaster on ordinary families - and most of all, children. 

“From Russia to Burma and Nigeria, the winners of this year’s Rory Peck Awards show the global nature of the freelance community and reinforce how important it is to protect their work, which often takes place in difficult or hazardous situations,” explained Tina Carr, Director of The Rory Peck Trust. 

“The winners of this year’s Rory Peck Awards represent just a small number of a growing and significant global community of freelance cameramen and women who work relentlessly to reveal and report news that may otherwise go unnoticed,” added Olivier Bovis, General Manager, Sony Professional. “These awards are a fitting tribute to recognise their bravery and determination.”
“Z” and “T”, 2009 Rory Peck Award for Features  – Winners

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) cameramen “Z” and “T” risked a long jail sentence to secretly film the lives of eight Burmese children orphaned by Cyclone Nargis. As country officials refused outside aid and told the population not to “dwell on sadness” their film, Orphans of Burma's Cyclone, reveals the reality of day-to-day life for Burmese children, struggling to rebuild their lives as the bones of friends and family lie scattered in adjacent fields. It was shot in Myanmar / Burma between May 2008 - March 2009 for Quicksilver Media and broadcast on Channel 4 Dispatches.
"Despite all the dangers, they still created a film narrative,” said the judges. “It was a journey for each of the individual families – and you went on that journey with them."
Finalists for The Features Award 2009 also included Mehran Bozorgnia for Afghan Life Crumbles Despite Foreign Aid and David Niblock for Congo's Forgotten Children.
Collecting the Features Award on behalf of ‘Z’ and ‘T’, DVB Operations Manager Myo Min Naing revealed that ‘T’ faces a 10-15 year prison sentence in Burma. Arrested four months ago in connection with his work for the DVB, he was last week charged with filming without government permission.
Kazbek Basayev, 2009 Rory Peck Award for News – Winner

Commissioned and broadcast by Reuters Video News, Kazbek Basayev’s film of the South Ossetia Conflict provided the first coverage of burning Georgian villages in territory taken under Russian/Ossetian control. The Russian cameraman entered Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, with the first wave of Russian troops in August 2008. He captured a remarkable series of images to reveal the human casualties of war – the dead and injured soldiers and civilians, shocked and displaced survivors in devastated streets.
The judges praised the quality of Basayev’s camerawork and said: “He was dealing with a population under stress, a foreign power, tanks, and burning buildings but in the middle of all that he managed to convey the human face of conflict with a series of thoughtful and beautifully composed shots.”
Finalists for The News Award 2009 also included Mahmoud el Ajrami for Beth Lahia School and John D McHugh for Combat Outpost.

Joost van der Valk, 2009 Sony Professional Impact Award – Winner

In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine - and branded witches. Saving Africa’s Witch Children,  part self-funded by Dutch filmmaker van der Valk, follows the work of Englishman Gary Foxcroft who has devoted his life to helping the so-called “witch” children who are abandoned, tortured, starved and sometimes murdered. Its broadcast led to the arrest of several pastors and pushed the local state government to declare the branding of children as witches illegal. The 60-minute piece, which was shot between February and May, 2008 for Red Rebel Films and Channel 4 Dispatches, has previously won a BAFTA and an International Emmy for Current Affairs.
Commending this powerful and gripping film the judges said: “Its subtle and restrained camerawork doesn't get in the way of telling what is a difficult and harrowing story.”
Finalists for The Sony Professional Impact Award 2009 also included Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill for China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province and Jamal Osman for World Food Programme.

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