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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK


Kosovo film wins Peck award

Winner of the 1998 award, Miguel Gil, at work

Cameraman Miguel Gil's documentary evidence of Albanians resisting Serbian forces in the Balkans flash-point of Kosovo has won a distinguished journalistic award.

Gil is the 1998 winner of the Rory Peck award, set up to recognise freelance camera operators working in the world's trouble-spots.

His prize-winning footage, shot in June and July this year, focused on the tensions in three towns in the troubled Balkan province between the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Serbian forces.

For the first time, Albanians were seen resisting the Serb forces at close quarters. But the public almost never saw the fruits of Gil's persistence.

[ image: Rory Peck: Killed while working in Russia]
Rory Peck: Killed while working in Russia
Serb policemen insisted on viewing a tape hidden by Gil in his coat. Luckily, when viewed, it miraculously came up blank and Gil was allowed through the checkpoint.

Gil was among three finalists shortlisted for the accolade.

The Rory Peck Award was set up in 1995 to mark the achievements of those men and women who put their life on the line to capture news events from the world's trouble spots.

It is the main fundraiser for the Rory Peck Trust, a UK charity working to help freelance camera operators who have been badly injured on assignment.

A programme about the trust and this year's awards, called Firing Line, will be shown on BBC World on 24 October at 1505 BST (1405 GMT).

The charity aims to support the dependants of cameramen or women killed in the line of work.

High risk work

The trust is named after the Irish cameraman Rory Peck, who was killed on assignment, while covering the siege of the White House in Moscow in 1993.

It works to highlight the unique role of freelance camera operators, who are relied upon by news organisations that are often unwilling to risk the safety of their own staff in troublespots.

It can sets out to help those injured in the course of work, or their dependants in the event of death.

Close to action

Director of the trust, Tina Carr, says: "Eighty per cent of news footage is from freelancers. They tend to find news stories and then stay with them, sometimes for months; sometimes for years. "

"They stay close to the action and tend to make strong, local contacts that results in powerful news coverage.

"But they don't have the security of being a staff employee and they often can't afford the high insurance premiums of working in a dangerous zone."

The panel of judges for the 1998 award, which included respected names in news such as Nik Gowing, from the BBC, and Peter Barron, from ITN, considered 31 entries from around the world.

The two other films considered in the finals were:

[ image:  ]
Robert Adams for The Hidden War, Iran. Mr Adams's footage represents the first time the Iranians had allowed a foreign television crew to film their military installations on the Eastern Khorrosan border.

[ image:  ]
Shlomi Afriat for South Lebanon Incident, Lebanon. The film captures the immediate aftermath of an exploded roadside bomb, targeted at an Israeli humanitarian convoy heading for south Lebanon.

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