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Al Jazeera English Wins Two FPA Media Awards

AJE Documentaries won two awards at the prestigious Foreign Press Association Media Awards 2020 on 23 November. ‘Hillbilly’ from Witness won the Arts & Culture Story of the Year and ‘Kyrgyzstan’s Space School’ part of the Women Make Science series won the Science Story of the Year award.

Ingrid Falck, Manager of AJE Documentaries said: “It is heartening that the strong journalism behind these powerful human stories is recognized by these respected awards. I am so proud of the whole Docs team and the many people who support us to get these stories to our screens. We never do them for the awards - but when they come, it is very gratifying for everyone involved.”

‘Kyrgyzstan’s Space School’, part of the Women Make Science series, was directed by San San F. Young. She followed a group of inspiring young women who challenge Kyrgyzstan’s gender norms and set their sights on infinity and beyond as they build their nation’s first-ever satellite - against great odds. Farid Barsoum, the AJE Executive Producer said: “The film offers great insight into the challenges and determination of these young women, while reflecting the unique qualities they bring to the world of science. It is something the entire Women Make Science series explores and celebrates. Our congratulations to San San and to Alina, Begaiym, Aidana and the entire team of the Kyrgyz Space Programme.”

‘Hillbilly’ was directed by Ashley York and Sally Rubin. Fiona Lawson-Baker, the Witness Executive Producer said: “Hillbilly provides a different perspective on a divided nation by challenging cultural stereotypes in the U.S. When Ashley York returns home to Appalachia to try and understand her Trump-loving relatives, she unveils a community grappling with a derisive self-image of poverty and ignorance that has been compounded by media and politicians over decades.  We are thrilled to see this Witness film win the FPA award for the Best Arts and Culture story in 2020. We congratulate the filmmakers, Ashley and Sally, for making a documentary that sets out to understand and overcome differences in such a particularly divisive time.”

The judges’ citation for ‘Hillbilly’ was that it was ‘a very fine piece of work’ which ‘explained the struggles of these people almost nobly’.  They judged ‘Kyrgyzstan’s Space School’ to be a ‘moving, heartwarming and beautifully shot story from Kyrgyzstan, with interconnections between politics and science’. 

The Foreign Press Association has celebrated world class international journalism since 1888. It is the oldest association of foreign journalists in the world and has members from over 65 countries and 250 media outlets. The FPA awards, known as ‘the Oscars of journalism’ are dedicated to excellence in journalism. They are judged by teams of top international journalists and broadcasters. The usually glittering awards ceremony was held virtually this year due to the pandemic.