‘Escaping Eritrea’ Wins FRONTLINE’s Second Peabody Award of 2022
THU., JUNE 8, 2022 — FRONTLINE’s May 2021 documentary Escaping Eritrea was honored with a George Foster Peabody Award on Thursday, the second FRONTLINE film to be recognized by the prestigious awards this year. The film was honored in the Peabody’s News category.
From producer and director Evan Williams, Escaping Eritrea is an unprecedented undercover investigation inside one of the most tightly controlled countries on Earth, spotlighting the voices of Eritrean refugees and citizens who have endured the unimaginable. The FRONTLINE/Channel 4 documentary shines new light on one of the world’s most repressive regimes, investigating shocking allegations of torture, arbitrary detention and indefinite forced conscription into military service.
In the Peabody jurors’ citation, the feats of finding sources willing to speak on camera and filming inside the secretive country was not overlooked: “The task of fleeing Eritrea, the small nation sometimes reductively called the North Korea of Africa, is the kind of perilous journey that often goes unchronicled for fear of retaliation.” Jurors noted that “with rigor and care, [Escaping Eritrea] captures not just the myriad abuses faced by Eritreans within the country and on various treacherous migration routes, but also the historical roots of the current regime.”
The jurors also praised the documentary for “present[ing] a rare exploration of the dire humanitarian crisis that’s long plagued the East African nation and its conflicted diaspora,” and for “its unflinching look at the horrors unfolding in the country, the courage of its refugees, and the stakes of the region’s conflicts.”
“We could not have made this documentary without the tireless support of FRONTLINE’s EP Raney Aronson-Rath and the UK’s Channel 4,” said Williams. “What sets FRONTLINE apart is the confidence to support local filmmakers around the world who are prepared to literally risk everything to reveal the truth of their countries, their realities and their systems, so when we, as Western nations, engage with those countries, we cannot say, ‘We didn’t know.’”
“We are so pleased to see Escaping Eritrea also be recognized by the Peabody jurors this year,” said Aronson-Rath. “Five years in the making, this award highlights the incredible long-term risk our journalists took to document the plight of Eritrean refugees and share their stories with the world. We share this honor with filmmaker Evan Williams, Channel 4 in the UK and the entire film team who made this investigation possible.”
FRONTLINE won its first Peabody Award of 2022 in the Documentary category on June 8 for A Thousand Cuts, chronicling Maria Ressa’s fight for press freedom in the Philippines under the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Thank you to this year’s jurors and all at the George Foster Peabody Awards for celebrating FRONTLINE’s international reporting in A Thousand Cuts and Escaping Eritrea, and for recognizing our domestic reporting in American Insurrection and The Healthcare Divide with nominations.” Aronson-Rath added. “We are grateful to our PBS audiences for tuning in, streaming and experiencing our journalism, and to PBS, GBH and CPB for their support, year after year.”
Since 1940, the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards have honored excellence in broadcasting; they have evolved to recognize excellence in digital storytelling as well. Two other FRONTLINE documentaries, American Insurrection and The Healthcare Divide were also nominated for 2022 Peabody Awards in the News category. This year’s Peabody Award winners were announced by celebrity presenters via videos on social media from June 6 to June 9.
Including this year’s wins for A Thousand Cuts and Escaping Eritrea, FRONTLINE, which is produced at GBH in Boston and airs nationwide on PBS, has garnered 28 Peabody Awards to date. Stream this year’s winning films below.