Last night I was lucky enough to attend the One World Media Awards, held at the amazing King’s Place in London. One World Media aims to increase global understanding through effective use of the media. Running through their work is the belief that the media can offer a unique means of highlighting development issues, and of promoting democracy and fair government worldwide. The annual awards reward the outstanding media coverage of the developing world, and recognises the special role that journalists and filmmakers play in bridging the divide between different societies and raising awareness of vital development issues.
As you expect, the standard was incredibly high across all the categories – but what impressed me most was the breadth of work out there – covering all kinds of issues from the dumping of commercial waste in Ghana to the role of international aid agencies. My blog is not long enough to mention them all – but here are a few that really stood out in my mind.
Afghanistan: Behind Enemy Lines won the TV Documentary category. The film crew spent ten days following one of most dangerous and devout insurgent factions. The result was a cross-between slap-stick comedy and the worst horrors you could imagine.
Makutano Junction won through in the New Media category. MJ is a TV drama series aired in Kenya and attracting over 7million viewers. They have developed online resources for secondary school students successfully challenging children’s attitudes on Kenya, Africa, development and poverty.
One of the most emotional awards of the night went to Dispatches: Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone. The programme followed eight Burmese orphans over the course of a year as they struggled to rebuild their lives following Cyclone Nargis. The film was shot using undercover Burmese cameramen, who faced up to 30 years in jail if they were caught.
The award was collected by one of the cameramen – now living in exile. He dedicated it to one of his colleagues – currently serving a 10-year jail sentence for being caught filming. He closed his speech with a reaffirmation of Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday statement – ‘Use your liberty so we can have ours’.
There were so many great films and alas I cannot mention them all – but if you will allow me just two more.
Africa Rising – by Clover Films looked at the role of western aid workers and asked you to imagine an africa where agencies instead used Africans – enabling societies to lift themselves out of poverty rather than depending on handouts. It was a really powerful piece and one of great personal interest to me.
Finally, the special award of the night went to Samajhdari, a project from Equal Access. Samajhdari is a 30minute weekly radio programme in Nepal that regularly reaches over 1million listeners. It aims to cover the correlation between violence against women and HIV/AIDS, taking on a number of difficult topics including rape within marriage and the abuse of sex-workers. Every programme begins with a real dilemma that a listener has faced, the presenter then brings in a range of voices to comment on the issue, including other listeners as well as experts in that field. It is a truly inspirational project that looks to empower women across Nepal. You can listen to the radio programme here
An so came the end of an inspiring evening and, with it the end of this blogpost. If you don’t know the work of One World Media I would encourage you to take a look – they do an incredible job in showcasing the best of world media, particularly in the development sector. And, if you fancy a great evening in the company of great people look out for the awards night in 2011.