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Jailed cameraman wins top media award

Nov 20, 2009 (DVB), Two Burmese cameramen who filmed an acclaimed documentary on the aftermath of Burma's cyclone Nargis have received a top media award, although it is revealed that one of them is now in prison.

Following the cyclone last year, the two cameramen, known only as 'Z' and 'T', who work for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), evaded military officials who had barred all reporters from entering Burma's southern Irrawaddy delta and documented a group of children orphaned by the storm.

The resulting film, 'Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone', was first shown in Britain earlier this year as part of Channel 4's investigatory Dispatches programme.

Receiving the Rory Peck Features Award in London last night on behalf of 'T' and 'Z', DVB's Myo Min Naing revealed that one of the two had been arrested earlier this year.

"I'm sorry to give bad news in these glorious times, but T was arrested four months ago," he said. "Perhaps he will get 10 to 15 years imprisonment. I am really sorry to deliver this message to the audience."

He added that he was grateful to Rory Peck Trust for the award, which honours cameramen working in dangerous environments, "to encourage my colleagues and those who are struggling in prison to promote journalism".

Speaking to DVB yesterday, 'Z' said that the project had been difficult and dangerous in light of a government announcement that the use of photography or video in the delta would be seen as a criminal offence.

"Security was the biggest concern for us; it was risky to go to a same location twice," he said. "Authorities could be aware that you were in a place and likely to be there again after you had released news about it."

In deciding the Rory Peck Award winner, one of the panel judges said: "Despite all the dangers, they still created a film narrative , it was a journey for each of the individual families , and you went on that journey with them."

The award ceremony coincided with an Oscar nomination for another documentary film involving DVB cameramen, ‘Burma VJ’.

The film, which documents journalists reporting on the September 2007 monk-led uprising in Burma, and is directed by Danish film maker Anders Ostergaard, has already received 33 international awards.

Reporting by DVB


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