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United Kingdom

UNICEF-supported film voted BBC World ‘Best Documentary’

UNICEF Image: United Kingdom: Being Indian
© Rockhopper TV
Biru Malik, 9, the subject of the BBC World award-winning programme ‘Being Indian’.

NEW YORK, USA, 12 December 2006 – A film about Biru Malik, a nine-year-old boy who spends his days preparing funeral pyres on the banks of the Ganges in India, is the winner of the BBC World viewers’ poll for the Best Documentary of 2006.

The documentary is part of the UNICEF-funded series ‘Being Indian’, which follows the lives of four children from widely differing backgrounds in a country with a fast-growing economy and half its population under the age of 35.

The programme, which will be broadcast again on 30 and 31 December, was produced by London-based Rockhopper TV, which also took third place in the BBC World viewers’ poll for a film on sleeping sickness. That film was produced for another UNICEF-inspired series – ‘Kill or Cure?’ – which focuses on preventable diseases.

Successful film series

“Today’s success can be attributed to UNICEF foresight,” said Rockhopper TV’s founder and managing director, Richard Wilson. “Four years ago, when we were just starting out, UNICEF had the confidence to lend their support to the pilot for ‘Kill or Cure?’ With UNICEF, we shot a film about the impact of measles on children in Nepal. The BBC liked it, and since then there’s been no looking back.”

UNICEF Image: United Kingdom: Being Indian
© Rockhopper TV
Rockhopper TV founder Richard Wilson on location. His London-based production company has worked with UNICEF on about a dozen films.

The successful ‘Kill or Cure?’ series on BBC World will continue next year with UNICEF-funded programmes on measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and maternal and neo-natal tetanus in Ethiopia and Pakistan.

Another series of films produced by Rockhopper TV with UNICEF support is being broadcast this December. ‘Who’s Afraid of HIV? One Year On’ follows the lives of four young people affected by HIV and AIDS one year after they were filmed for the first series in 2005.

Educating a global audience

“UNICEF has been a terrific collaborator on a dozen or more films, helping us track down the stories that engage TV viewers in developing world issues. This is no easy task and it always amazes me that UNICEF is able to deliver with such apparent effortless ease,” Mr. Wilson said.

“The same is true of ‘Being Indian’. Finding four kids with great stories who can also communicate with a world audience is a wonderful achievement. For both series we are very grateful to UNICEF for their support,” he added.

UNICEF’s Senior Producer Dan Thomas, who manages UNICEF’s relationship with Rockhopper TV, said the partnership was proving to be a great opportunity to inform and educate a global audience about the issues faced by children in the developing world.

“The producers at Rockhopper TV have a talent for turning the most difficult crises facing children into compelling television,” he said, “and BBC World can be seen in more than 280 million homes around the world.”



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