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Conflict - up close and personal - characterises this year’s Rory Peck Awards

London, 13 October 2010 – The Rory Peck Trust today revealed the nine finalists selected for the 2010 Rory Peck Awards, sponsored by Sony Professional.

The winners will be announced at the Rory Peck Awards ceremony on Wednesday 17 November 2010 at London’s BFI Southbank, which this year is hosted by ITV News’s Julie Etchingham.

The Rory Peck Awards is the only competition in the world to recognise the skill and achievement of freelance cameramen and camerawomen in international news and current affairs. This year’s finalists demonstrate how, more than ever, today’s media industry relies on freelancers to go to places that broadcasters are reluctant to go to, and to bring back stories that would otherwise not be told.  They also show how freelancers have raised the bar technically, demonstrating what small cameras can do in difficult situations.  
The face of conflict - up close, personal and intimate  – dominates the films short-listed for the Rory Peck Award for News and the Rory Peck Award for Features, with stories from Bangkok, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe and both sides of the conflict in Afghanistan.
The struggle of everyday life away from conflict characterises the shortlist for the Sony Professional Impact Award, with stories showing the human face of illegal immigration in the US and Guatemala, the plight of Roma gypsy children forced to steal and beg, and the harsh reality of life for children living on the streets and in the slums of Mumbai.
“We have three extremely moving films on this year’s shortlist”, said Olivier Bovis, Sony Professional’s AV Media Business Head, and one of the judges for this year’s Sony Professional Impact Award.  “I was particularly impressed with the way the finalists translated the emotion of what they saw through their cameras. Each of them, in different ways, managed to articulate the human dimension of their stories in a so that they had real impact; that’s not easy to achieve. “
“The standard and range of entries to this year’s awards show that the freelance community is vibrant and thriving”, said Tina Carr, Director of the Rory Peck Trust.  “Every year we are impressed by the level of commitment, drive and courage that goes into the telling of these stories. Many of this year’s finalists worked under extremely difficult circumstances to produce extraordinary stories from around the world.  It is important that we recognise their work”
Hopewell Rugoho Chin'ono (Zimbabwean)
A Violent Response
Shot in Zimbabwe, 2008-2009
Part self funded with ITV News (ITN) and Television International for K24
This inside story of Zimbabwe's post-election violence captures both the desperate economic situation of the time and the immense difficulties faced by those opposing Robert Mugabe. In a wide-ranging and personal account - filmed mostly undercover - Hopewell speaks to both victims and perpetrators of the appalling violence and human rights abuses surrounding the 2008 elections. The film documents shocking scenes of injury and death in the country's hospitals and prisons, and the experiences of white farmers who are beaten, intimidated and narrowly escape death when their home is destroyed by fire.
Najibullah Quraishi (Afghan-British)
Behind Enemy Lines
Shot in Afghanistan, October-November 2009
Clover Films for Channel 4 - Dispatches

Najibullah Quraishi’s film documents the two weeks he spent with Hezb-i-Islami, Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters in the troubled Kunduz and Baghlan provinces in Afghanistan. Witnessing dramatic attacks on NATO supply routes, Najibullah also captures the day-to-day lives of the insurgents - complaints of boredom, the cold, and arguments with their commanders. Eventually however, a commander becomes suspicious of Najibullah's motives and asks him if he would take up arms against the Kufaar (non-believers). He replies: "My camera is my gun". Soon after, when a vote is proposed to behead Najibullah, he is forced to flee the camp.
Paul Refsdal (Norwegian)
Taliban: Behind the Masks
Shot in Afghanistan, October 2009
Novemberfilm and Norwegian Film Institute for NRK
An unusually intimate portrait of a group of Taliban fighters in their mountain stronghold.  Although one of their members would go on to kidnap Paul Refsdal, we see the Taliban group eventually relax in the presence of his camera, despite their initial reservations about “the tall white man”.  Paul’s film focuses on the charismatic commander – Dawran – and squad leader Omar.  We see Dawran in his home, playing with his young children, and playing a game of rock-throwing with his men to pass the time between the attacks.  We also see him and his men attacking American convoys.  Paul says that Dawran was instrumental in his kidnap release and that no ransom was paid.
Bangkok Street Protests
Shot in Thailand, April - May 2010
Commissioned and broadcast by Wall Street
This footage is a detailed diary of events in Bangkok during the final week of the anti-government protests in May 2010.  Close, immediate and dramatic, we see the conflict from both the perspective of the protestors’ and the Thai army. Roger is based in Bangkok - the story unfolded on his doorstep, and he was on the streets day and night, filming events as they happened. His footage shows the devastating violence of the protests, and also their tragic results - among the many people injured during the conflict were several of Roger’s journalist friends, one of whom was killed.
Kyrgyzstan Aftermath
Shot in Kyrgyzstan, June 2010
Commissioned and broadcast by Aljazeera English
Robin Forestier-Walker submitted three reports on the complicated story of inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan. They document the chaos and tragedy of June 2010 when thousands of homes were destroyed and hundreds - at least - were killed. The city of Osh was physically divided between defensive Uzbek neighbourhoods blocked off by makeshift barricades, the Kyrgyz military, and mob-controlled areas. The reports include interviews with eye witnesses to atrocities - including the rape of children - and funerals for victims at a mass burial site.
Afghanistan Bomb Disposal
Shot in Afghanistan, February 2010
Commissioned and broadcast by NBC News
Sebastian Rich was embedded in Afghanistan with 1/6 Alpha company of the American marines when they came across a 40-pound Improvised Explosive Device. The bomb was on the roof of a building in Marjah where the Marine colonel was going to meet with village elders.  As villagers and marines hurriedly left the area, Sebastian made the decision to stay where he was in order to film and interview Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Gaza as he made the bomb safe. The resulting footage captures how Officer Gaza dealt with this incredibly tense and dangerous situation.

In the Shadow of the Raid
Shot in Guatemala and the United States, May 2008-February 2009.
Part self-funded with support from the Institute for Justice and Journalism Fund
Broadcast by PBS

This film explores the devastating economic consequences of a major US immigration raid on a meat-packing plant in Iowa.  Half the illegal workers arrested during the raid come from just two small, neighbouring villages in Guatemala and the film-makers show how the money they earned in America was the sole income for old and infirm relatives in these poor mountain communities. We see how one deported worker faced losing his home if he could not repay the seven thousand dollars he'd borrowed to get to Iowa. With its eye-opening findings on this controversial raid, the film has become a part of the American debate on immigration policy.
NICK READ (British)
The Slumdog Children of Mumbai
Shot in India, July-September 2009
True Vision Productions for Channel 4 - Dispatches
Shot over 3 months through the Monsoon, Nick Read’s film captures the unvarnished reality of life for four children living in the slums and on the streets of Mumbai: seven-year-old Deepa, who lives next to an open rubbish dump and runs barefoot through Mumbai traffic selling flowers to help support her family; 11-year-old Salaam, who, a few weeks after running away from his abusive stepmother lives rough outside the main railway station; and twins Hussan and Hussein, also 11, who risk cholera and infection fishing for scraps in a filthy canal so they can earn money to eat. Since transmission, a Foundation set up by the film’s producers has raised money to fund the children's education and future welfare.
Gypsy Child Thieves
Shot in Spain, Italy and Romania, December 2008-April 2009
Commissioned and broadcast by BBC Two - This World
This film highlights the plight of Roma gypsy children forced to beg and steal by organized criminal gangs from their own community - and sometimes also by their own families. In a series of secretly-shot sequences we see the children leave squalid camps outside Madrid and Milan to spend long hours begging, picking-pockets and stealing from cash machines. Occasionally picked up by the authorities, they are then handed back to the very people who are exploiting them. In the words of the film-makers, the film is a call for immediate action to help these children.

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