DIG Awards 2021

Finalists: Reportage Medium

For video reportages, both released and unreleased, of a maximum duration of 30 minutes. Filmmakers must address themes of social relevance, using original points of view and journalistic approaches.

The Cost of Cobalt

Al Jazeera English | UK/Democratic Republic of Congo 2021 | 25′

In the cobalt mining areas of Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, babies are being born with horrific birth defects. Scientists and doctors are finding increasing evidence of environmental pollution from industrial mining which, they believe, may be the cause of a range of malformations from cleft palate to some so serious the baby is still-born. More than 60% of the world’s reserves of cobalt are in the DRC and this mineral is essential for the production of electric car batteries, which may be the key to reducing carbon emissions and to slowing climate change. In the film we meet the doctors treating the children affected and the scientists who are measuring the pollution. Cobalt may be part of the global solution to climate change, but in this film we are ask, is it right that Congo’s next generation pay the price with their health? Many are hoping that the more the world understands their plight, the more pressure will be put on the industry here to clean up its act.

Syria: Lost chilhood

Découpages, ARTE | France 2020 | 24′

In northwestern Syria, after 9 years of war and a death toll around 500,000, Idlib province faces an unprecedented humanitarian and economic crisis, only made worse by the coronavirus crisis. Surrounded by the forces of the Al-Assad regime and its Russian ally, the people of Idleb province receive virtually no humanitarian aid. In order to survive the most vulnerable families are forced to send their children to work. Many of them have left school, in order to work on daily basis, such as 12-year-old Hammoudé. He became the family’s breadwinner, and his 9-year-old brother Karmou works with him on part time basis. Both exhaust themselves working in a garage for miserable wages. But to support their family, they are ready to make those kind of sacrifices. A team of Syrian journalists followed their daily lives and witnessed the ravages of war from the child’s perspective.

Iraq – Iran: the dangerous borderland

Découpages, ARTE | France 2021 | 24′

The kolbars, literally in kurdish “those who carry on their backs”, risk their lives crossing a border separating Iran from Iraq. When they’re not dying from cold, fall or mine explosion, they are the target of border guards. In 2020, 61 kolbars were killed, 181 others injured, mutilated or tortured. Their crime: to have smuggled televisions, vacuum cleaners, cigarettes or sometimes alcohol through Iran. A dangerous activity not really marginal: they would be a hundred thousand Kurds to practice it to survive in a country which deprives them of work. From an Iraqi village a few kilometers from the border, smugglers testify to their efforts to escape unemployment and the misery in which Iran keeps them prisoners.

Desperate Journey

PBS NewsHour | US/Colombia/Panama 2020 | 23′ (series)

As Europe and the US close their doors, asylum-seekers and migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East embark on one of the last ways to reach the US: via South America. But the only way north from Colombia to Panama is by traversing the Darien Gap by foot: 10,000 square miles of mountainous jungle, now at the nexus of one of the world’s most dangerous and under-reported migration routes. Independent journalists Bruno Federico and Nadja Drost documented the extraordinary journey of migrants as they crossed the Darien Gap with smugglers. The route is perilous: migrants face sexual assault and armed robbery; others die due to injury, snake bites, and drowning. The 2nd piece reveals how, upon arriving at a camp in Panama, migrants meet a form of US border security enforcement. After submitting biometric data sent to American officials, migrants must get vetted before continuing their journey – and those from mostly Muslim countries can wait up to four months in squalid conditions.

Malaysia’s plastic jungle

TRT World | Malaysia/Turkey 2020 | 24′

When China decided to close its door to foreign plastic waste in 2019, recyclers quickly relocated their businesses to other countries, including Malaysia, that quickly became one the main destinations for used plastic. Illegal factories started mushrooming across the country dumping and burning anything that can’t be processed. A lucrative business but not a very clean nor transparent one. Malaysia’s plastic jungle explores the harmful consequences of foreign plastic waste recycling on Malaysian people’s health, environment and safety. Through the fight of those who refuse to be the world’s dumping ground and rare access into illegal – and often criminal – factories, we expose the dark side of a so-called green business.