FRONTLINE Wins Overseas Press Club Award for “Mosul”

March 21, 2018
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by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

The Overseas Press Club of America announced on Wednesday that Mosul, an October 2017 FRONTLINE film following a squad of elite Iraqi Special Forces soldiers as they fought street-by-street to drive ISIS out of Iraq’s second-largest city, has won this year’s Edward R. Murrow Award, which recognizes the “best TV, video or documentary interpretation of international affairs” lasting less than one hour.

Filmed on the ground by Olivier Sarbil over the course of the brutal, nine-month battle, and produced by Sarbil, James Jones, and Dan Edge, the documentary “stands out for the way it connects viewers with the characters of four Iraqi soldiers, putting human faces on an inhuman conflict,” the OPC judges wrote.

Additionally, the fall 2017 FRONTLINE documentary, Putin’s Revenge — which investigated how Russian president Vladimir Putin came to see America as an enemy, and how U.S. intelligence agencies came to believe he targeted the 2016 election — earned a runner-up citation for the OPC’s Peter Jennings Award, which honors the “best TV, video or documentary about international affairs one hour or longer.” The two-hour film was directed by Michael Kirk, and produced by Kirk, Mike Wiser, Jim Gilmore and Philip Bennett, with reporting by Gilmore and David E. Hoffman.

“FRONTLINE is honored by the OPC’s recognition of our documentaries on both the high cost of the Iraqi army’s victory over ISIS in Mosul, and on Vladimir Putin’s grievances against the U.S.,” said Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of FRONTLINE. “We’re proud to have brought these important stories to the American public, and we’re grateful to our viewers, our funders, PBS, CPB and WGBH for supporting FRONTLINE’s journalism.”

Founded in 1939, the OPC describes itself as America’s oldest, largest association of journalists engaged in international news. Its annual awards recognize excellence in international news coverage.

In comments shared with FRONTLINE, the OPC judges praised Mosul for its unflinching depiction of the tensions between Mosul’s mostly-Sunni civilians and the mostly-Shia soldiers — who feared that ISIS fighters might be hiding among the civilians they encountered: “This is the ugly, unpredictable but relentless face of war, seen from up very close through Sarbil’s lens – and clearly at substantial risk to himself,” the judges said.

For Sarbil, who has called Mosul “the toughest battle I’ve ever covered,” news of the OPC recognition was gratifying.

“We are truly honored to receive this award from the OPC,” he said. “We hope people will remember that the war against ISIS is a war that affects us all, and that this film is a story of young Iraqi Muslims standing up for themselves. I spent months on the front line with these men. This film does not portray them as heroes, but as complex characters who are brave but flawed. It is an unflinching portrait of war, in all its horror and moral ambiguity. We are so pleased this reality resonated with the judges.”

The OPC Awards will be presented April 26, 2018 in New York City at a dinner hosted by NBC News & Noticias Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart and keynoted by New York Times managing editor Joseph Kahn.

Read the full list of 2018 OPC Award winners here, watch Mosul above, and watch Putin’s Revenge here.

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