IAWRT 2009 International Awards of Excellence

Theme of Competition: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
16 Nov 2009 - 21 Nov 2009

Press Release: International Documentary Awards Announced

IAWRT Awards of Excellence announced at the biennial conference of the International  Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) hosted by the Cambodian Women’s Media Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

November 19th, 2009

The Cambodian Women’s Media Center is hosting the IAWRT biennial conference which has brought 60 IAWRT members from 20 countries around the world. The IAWRT Award of Excellence for the best radio and television documentary 2009 has been announced. The cash awards go to Ruth Evans, independent radio documentary maker of the United Kingdom, and to independent television documentary maker, Diana Saqeb of Afghanistan. The two international juries (see image below) reviewed programs directed by women about women - from all continents of the world.

The award winning radio documentary, “The 66 Club” tells the story of Wendy Kramer who founded the website, “Donor Sibling Registry” to connect thousands of children, conceived by anonymous donors, with their half siblings and their once anonymous biological fathers. The documentary follows one group of women, “The 66 Club” who used the sperm of the same anonymous donor, number 66. The documentary brings into focus the wide range of ethical issues that have arisen from the multi-million dollar donor industry. “The documentary has the ability to draw audience attention to the medical, social, moral, and ethical issues connected to this profitable industry.” (jury).

The award winning television documentary, “Twenty five percent” follows six female parliament members in Afghanistan fighting for women’s rights in the male dominated parliament. While the new constitution demands that 25% of the parliamentarians are women, these women must fight to make their voices heard. The film depicts these courageous women in both their domestic lives and their political lives as mothers, daughters and political leaders. “In contrast to the onslaught of images of war and veiled women, “Twenty five percent” represents these powerful women fighting for a society where their rights are respected.”

The honourable mention in radio documentary is awarded to “The Search for Edna Lavilla” produced by Sharon Davis and Eurydice Aroney of ABC Radio National from Australia. The program uncovers the story of Edna Lavilla Heynes who died in 1942 from a back alley abortion. Sixty years later, her tenacious granddaughter tracks down hidden police reports and government files to tell Edna’s story, a story common to one in four women in Australia at that time.

The honourable mention in television is shared by three women; “Living in the Minefield” by Marit Gjertsen from Norway; “Shahida: Bride of Allah” by Natalie Assouline of Israel and “Tales from the Margin” by Kavita Joshi of India.

The first honourable mention, “Living in the Minefield,” follows the daily life of An Vy, a Cambodian widow with eight daughters. After her husband was killed by a landmine, An Vy continues to work in the soil where landmines are a daily threat. She explains “If you are just afraid and stay home, you will have no food for your children.”

The second honourable mention “Shahida: Bride of Allah” follows Palestinian women who are jailed for their involvement in bombings in Israel. The film presents the daily lives of these women in prison. The women candidly express their religious and political convictions, their challenges as mothers living in prisons, and their involvement in the daily rituals of imprisoned life.

The third honourable mention goes to Kavita Joshi from India for her documentary  “Tales from the margins.” This documentary presents a struggle from Manipure, a state in the North-East of India. For decades activists have been fighting against a drastic law that allows anyone in the security forces to shoot, arrest or kill- on suspicion alone. The film documents the extraordinary protests of Manipuri women as they fight against the abuse, rape and kill of their daughters and their people.

TV Jury
Kallianey Kim, Cambodia
Olivia Tumanjong, Cameroon
Gerd Inger Polden, Norway

Radio Jury
Soviry Voun, Cambodia
Maria Teresita Borja-Osalla, Philippine
Maia Metaxa, Moldova