FRONTLINE Wins RFK Award for “Escaping ISIS”
The 2015 documentary from producer and director Edward Watts, producer Evan Williams and senior producer James Jones gave a stunning, firsthand look at the plight of women and children who are Yazidi, a religious minority in northern Iraq that has been targeted by ISIS for particularly brutal treatment. ISIS sees the Yazidis as devil-worshipping pagans who must be cleansed in order to turn Iraq into a pure Islamic state. Under their rule, Yazidi women and children have been bought and sold as sex slaves, raped, and even stoned to death.
“I’ve covered a lot of bad and terrible stories, and this is just on a different scale, because of the cruelty that these very young women have endured,” Watts told FRONTLINE in a July interview. “The courage that they have to keep to have survived, to have resisted, to have stayed alive and not given up. And it’s really striking. It somehow, as a story, has that power to affect people in a way that not a lot of stories do.”
The film also shined a spotlight on the work of Khalil al-Dakhi, a former lawyer who now leads an underground railroad helping families flee ISIS.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for this documentary, which told the story of the terrible treatment so many Yazidi women have endured at the hands of ISIS — and how they’ve managed to escape,” says FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “We’re grateful to our viewers, our funders at PBS and CPB, and WGBH for the chance to do this work.”
The Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, given annually by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, recognize outstanding reporting on human rights and social justice issues. Escaping ISIS — an ITN Productions-Ronachan Films co-production with Evan Williams Productions and Mediadante for FRONTLINE in association with Channel 4 — won in the International Television category.
Read a full listing of the 2016 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award recipients here, and watch FRONTLINE’s winning film below.