FEED Issue 23

40 HAPPENING Rory Peck Awards

FEED attended last year’s Rory Peck Awards where journalists risking it all for the truth are honoured – and remembered DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY

THERE’S A LOT OF CONTENT OUT THERE, BUT IT’S MADE BY ALL THE SAME PEOPLE he annual Rory Peck Awards is nothing if not humbling, and generally involves many of us in the media industry spending two hours becoming ashamed of referring to ourselves as ′journalists′. The Rory Peck Trust was set up in 1995 in memory of freelance cameraman Rory Peck. Peck covered the first Gulf War in 1991, as well as the civil wars in Bosnia and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. In 1993, he was shot and killed by paramilitaries outside Moscow’s Ostankino TV Centre while covering the Russian constitutional crisis that pitched the Russian congress against then-president, Boris Yeltsin. The Trust, based in London, provides practical assistance and support to freelance newsgatherers and their families worldwide. It is funded fully by organisations, corporations and individuals, and its annual awards show is the key event in its calendar. Major sponsors of the event were Google, Sony and the AP. Among the awards presented was the Sony Impact Award for Current Affairs, which honours the work of freelance camera operators producing long-form current affairs content that dives deep into


Investigative documentary filmmaking requires immense risk-taking from crews and contacts

a single issue. There were three nominees for the award; Martin Boudot and Mathias Denizo’s film Paraguay: Poisoned Fields looked at the human toll pesticides are taking in Paraguay and won the award (read our Genius Interview with Martin Boudot in this issue). American filmmaker Matthew Cassel’s film The Missing examined the international refugee crisis from the point-of-view of the families and communities left in the dark about the fate of loved ones who had set off for a better life. And Rodrigo Vázquez’s film, Frontline Nicaragua , was an on-the-ground look at the 2018 protests against growing oppression by the government. FEED talked with the three nominees after the awards about the challenges of making films in dangerous places – and the truth as something you have to work hard to uncover. DOUBTING DIGITAL DEMOCRACY The theme of the Sony-moderated discussion was freedom of speech. It quickly became clear in the conversation

that the new world of democratised digital media was not living up to the hype. Rodrigo Vázquez made it clear he thought media was actually becoming less fair. “There are swathes of the population that have no access,” Vázquez said. “I started teaching at the National Film School in London 20 years ago. Back then, the type of student we had could have been working class, or even on the dole. Today you have to be quite wealthy to study. So although the means of production have been democratised now, there’s no real access for people to make the content. “And then who watches? You have to pay for Netflix. If you have no money, you watch the free content that is targeted to you – via Facebook and YouTube. Martin went to Paraguay to make his film, but where were the Paraguayan filmmakers? Why don’t they have access to the technology and the platforms? There’s a lot of content out there, but it’s made by all the same people – middle class people, with liberals talking to liberals, conservatives talking to conservatives.”

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