Canberra studio takes out award for ISIS victims documentary
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Canberra studio takes out award for ISIS victims documentary

A Canberra video production company has won a prestigious international gong for a documentary on victims in the fight against ISIS.

Newcast Studios recently received a Cannes Corporate Media and TV award for its documentary on the work of Canberra medical firm Aspen Medical in Iraq.

Aspen Medical managed trauma field hospitals and maternity units in a number of war-ravaged areas during the height of the fight against ISIS.

Newcast was a silver winner in the informational films category at the international competition, which attracted more than 1000 entries.

Newcast director Damien Maher with a Cannes Corporate TV award, which the production company won for “Mission to Mosul”, a documentary about Aspen Medical’s deployment to Iraq.

Newcast director Damien Maher with a Cannes Corporate TV award, which the production company won for “Mission to Mosul”, a documentary about Aspen Medical’s deployment to Iraq.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

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The often-confronting, 20-minute-long documentary, titled Mission to Mosul, followed the Aspen Medical team's work to rebuild a healthcare system destroyed by months of fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS.

The World Health Organisation and United Nations commissioned Aspen Medical to establish and manage the hospitals in the war-torn region from March 2017 until June this year.

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During the two year mission, the company treated nearly 50,000 patients and helped deliver 3000 babies.

Newcast managing director Damien Maher said the fighting and instability meant the documentary had been a challenge to produce.

Mr Maher said the film crew had to be "whisked in and out" of the city by armed guards as ISIS had been highly active at the time of production.

"The threat to safety was very real; people were putting their lives at risk by simply appearing in the documentary, with the local doctors forced to hide their identities for fear of reprisals by ISIS," he said.

"At times the footage is confronting, with the savagery of ISIS and the battle for Mosul on full display.

"But the rewards have outweighed the risks thanks to receiving this award; a story about the people of Mosul and their basic requirement for healthcare they so desperately needed."

The annual Cannes awards recognise the world's best corporate films, online media productions and documentaries in one of the world’s most important film centres.

The awards ceremony was held in September in the French city, however the award arrived in Canberra this week.

Mr Maher said the award showed what Canberra companies could achieve and was further proof of the "depth of creative talent" locally.

"I can't emphasise enough how proud our team is to work alongside Aspen Medical, a Canberra company on the front line of the world’s humanitarian efforts," he said.

"Aspen Medical's marketing and communications team truly understand the power of video in telling stories and this award is thanks to their efforts in getting the project off the ground in the first place."

Newcast's Robert Skonieczny, Sean O'Gorman, director Damien Maher, Sian Henshaw, and Celia Berry-Smith. The production company won a Cannes Corporate TV award for "Mission to Mosul", a documentary about Aspen Medical’s deployment to Iraq.

Newcast's Robert Skonieczny, Sean O'Gorman, director Damien Maher, Sian Henshaw, and Celia Berry-Smith. The production company won a Cannes Corporate TV award for "Mission to Mosul", a documentary about Aspen Medical’s deployment to Iraq.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Michael Inman is a courts reporter for The Canberra Times

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