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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Documentary film-makers scoop major awards

Whicker’s World Foundation has announced the winners of its latest Funding Awards.

The top award, £80,000, for a first-time feature-length documentary maker aged 35 or under, went to Pailin Wedel of Bangkok for “Hope Frozen”, a compassionate film probing the ethics and morality of cryogenics and the meaning of death.

Wedel, 34, is a Thai-American video journalist based in Bangkok. She has worked on documentary programmes for television including commissioned half-hour episodes for Al Jazeera English’s current events documentary reportage program “101 East”. Aside from her television work, she also regularly films pieces for The New York Times, National Geographic, Monocle and the Wall Street Journal. Before diving into the freelance life, she was the Asia Interactive producer for the Associated Press where she directed online visual and interactive coverage for the region.

Edinburgh based Duncan Cowles, 26, won £15,000 for “Silent Men”, a sideways look at masculine response to emotion, while the £5,000 Sage Award, for an outstanding newcomer over 50, went to Steven Carne for “My NHS, Voices from the Grassroots”, a very personal take on the crisis in healthcare. The £2,000 runner-up prize went to Roy Delaney for his film “The Bard’s Wife”.

Whicker’s World Foundation, built on the legacy of celebrated journalist and broadcaster Alan Whicker, has awarded a total of £102,000 to help support documentary-makers. Alan Whicker wanted to stimulate and empower talent which might otherwise not find its place in this highly competitive industry. The Foundation is looking for a spirit of inquisitiveness that will stimulate the viewer and tell something new and unexpected about the world.

Valerie Kleeman, photographer, programme consultant and Alan Whicker’s partner for more than 40 years, said: “Alan’s wish was that the Foundation should provide a platform for young documentary makers. He would be amazed and delighted by so much of what we have seen. We looked for surprise and originality and have not been disappointed- the sheer variety of entries has been overwhelming, the choices agonising. The spirit of Whicker’s World is alive and flourishing in the most unexpected and inaccessible places.”