FRONTLINE Wins Two Peabody Awards for Documentaries on ISIS and the Refugee Crisis


April 18, 2017

Two FRONTLINE documentaries — Confronting ISIS, an investigation of the complexities and challenges of the U.S.-led fight against the terror group, and Exodus, a portrait of the global refugee and migrant crisis — were named George Foster Peabody Award winners for excellence in documentary filmmaking on Tuesday.

“We’re so proud that both our in-depth, policy-level reporting on the fight against ISIS, and our up-close look at the human stories of people displaced by conflict and violence, have been honored with Peabody Awards,” says FRONTLINE executive producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “It’s a privilege to work with tenacious, talented journalists and filmmakers to tell stories like these. None of this would be possible without our viewers and the sustaining support from PBS and CPB.”

Confronting ISIS, an October 2016 film from writer, reporter and producer Martin Smith and producer Linda Hirsch, investigated two years of American-led efforts to defeat ISIS, with on-the-ground reporting from five countries with key roles in the anti-ISIS fight — Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

“Veteran correspondent Martin Smith’s deliberate reporting provides context to America’s ongoing war against Islamist extremists in this essential primer on the origins and timeline of the conflict,” said today’s announcement on the Peabody Awards website. “Confronting ISIS clearly articulates the political complexities behind the rise of the terrorist group, their strategies in recruitment and tactics, and America’s diplomatic missteps and heightened challenges.”

Our team is honored to be chosen from among such a strong slate of 2016 finalists and by the recognition that the Peabody Award signifies,” Smith says. “To do this kind of work is a tremendous privilege. I want to thank everyone who worked on Confronting ISIS and the ongoing support of FRONTLINE and PBS.”  

Exodus, a December 2016 film from director James Bluemel, told the first-person stories of refugees and migrants fleeing war, persecution and hardship for Europe — drawing on footage filmed by the refugees and migrants themselves in sinking dinghies, in the trucks of human traffickers and inside the countries they hope to call home.

Today’s announcement called the film “an intimate take on the refugee and migrant crisis distinguished by its specificity of the people it follows,” showing “their humanity and their attempts to keep this humanity in the face of their journey.”

“Like everyone, I was shocked and saddened by the images of refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, as they journeyed to Europe,” Bluemel says. “The news was bombarding us, but what was missing or being ignored were the voices of the migrants themselves. I’m extremely grateful to those who decided they wanted to tell their story, and I’m immensely proud that their stories are receiving the attention they deserve.”

Since 1940, the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards have honored excellence in broadcasting. The awards now recognize excellence in digital storytelling as well. The 76th annual Peabody Awards ceremony will take place May 20 in New York City, and will air on both PBS and Fusion on June 2.

These are FRONTLINE’s 19th and 20th Peabody Awards. FRONTLINE is produced out of WGBH in Boston. Also nominated alongside Confronting ISIS and Exodus was the 2016 FRONTLINE film Chasing Heroin, filmmaker Marcela Gaviria’s in-depth look at America’s heroin and opioid epidemic and its years-in-the-making social context.

Including FRONTLINE’s three nods, 11 of this year’s 60 Peabody nominations went to PBS programs. Two other PBS documentaries — Independent Lens: Trapped and POV: Hooligan Sparrow — were also named winners in the documentary category.

Watch FRONTLINE’s winning and nominated films below.

Confronting ISIS




Chasing Heroin


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE



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