FRONTLINE Wins OPC Award for “Children of Syria”

March 21, 2017
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by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

The Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) announced Tuesday that FRONTLINE’s Children of Syria — an April 2016 film by director Marcel Mettelsiefen chronicling a Syrian family’s struggle to survive in war-torn Aleppo and their escape to a new life as refugees — has won this year’s David A. Andelman and Pamela Title Award for “best international reporting in the broadcast media showing a concern for the human condition.”

“While there have been many stories on the Syrian refugee crisis, PBS produced a lovely, layered story of tragedy and hope that added context to the migrant story,” the OPC judges wrote. “The team perfectly captured the emotion of a family dealing with war and its effects.”

FRONTLINE’s December 2016 documentary, Exodus, which shared the firsthand journeys of migrants and refugees making dangerous journeys to Europe in search of safety, earned an honorable mention in the same category.

“We’re honored by the OPC’s recognition of our reporting on the largest refugee and migrant crisis since World War II, and we’re proud to have brought these stories to the American public,” said Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of FRONTLINE. “We remain so grateful to our viewers, our funders, PBS, CPB, and of course, WGBH, for supporting FRONTLINE’s journalism.”

Mettelsiefen first began chronicling the family at the center of Children of Syria in 2013. Back then, Hala Kamil, her husband Abu Ali, and their four children — Sara, Farah, Helen and Mohammed — were living in a suburb of Aleppo that had been transformed into a war zone.

Filmed with remarkable intimacy and access over the next three years, Children of Syria went on to trace the family’s grief as Abu Ali was kidnapped, and as Hala journeyed to Germany with the kids in search of a better future.

“I am so humbled to receive this award from the OPC,” said Mettelsiefen. “I believe that the Syrian crisis, now entering its seventh year, is the biggest tragedy of modern history. Throughout my journey of making this documentary, I hoped that the story of this remarkable Syrian family who risked everything would resonate — that through the eyes of these children and their brave mother, we could all look upon the Syrian crisis with greater empathy.”

PBS and The New York Times are the 2017 OPC Awards’ most-recognized media organizations, with three wins each. The awards will be presented April 27, 2017 in New York City at a dinner hosted by Huffington Post Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen and keynoted by CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker.

Children of Syria previously earned a duPont Award. Kamil was also invited to speak before the United Nations General Assembly in August of 2016, where she delivered a message as part of the U.N.’s World Humanitarian Day event. “We may have lost our homes, but we haven’t lost our ability to change this world,” she said.

Read the full list of 2017 OPC Award winners here, and watch FRONTLINE’s Children of Syria above.

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