Local documentary wins 2013 Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award
‘Reel Time: Bone Dry‘, a documentary highlighting child malnutrition in Philippines, where two in ten children are undernourished, has won the 2013 Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award for broadcasting.
Filmed in the Tondo district of Manila, one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the country, the documentary tells the story of Mary Rose, a girl from a very poor family living in a slum. Although Mary is 10, her height and weight are comparable to that of a 5-year old child. She lives with her five siblings, who have all been diagnosed as severely malnourished.
Mary’s mother Vina earns less than a half a US dollar a day, and has to single-handedly provide for her six children. “When we are not able to get any food, we just sleep to get through the hunger,” Vina said. “My kids understand. They’ll eat next day. They are used to it, not eating at night. Rice, noodles without any meats, soups are the things we can afford to eat.”
Mary said: “When I go to school, sometimes I get dizzy. I fall asleep on my chair in classroom because I haven’t eaten. I don’t get to eat because my mom doesn’t have any money.” Despite this, Mary has never stopped pursuing her two greatest dreams in life – to finish her studies and to find out what chicken tastes like.
‘Reel Time: Bone Dry’ was praised by the jurors for addressing the issue of hunger very successfully. There is strong footage documenting seriously impoverished families who cannot afford to eat. It is hard hitting and difficult to watch but it is something that everyone should see.
According to the winning producing team from GMA Network: “Filming the family’s daily routine was heart-breaking for all of us. It was never easy to document how Mary Rose and her younger siblings eat only once a day and yet the mother, already calloused from the daily hardships that they face, seemed unworried about the situation. After showing the documentary, many viewers were touched by Mary Rose’s story. Now an American couple is sponsoring Mary Rose and her family.”
Leonie Ki, Chairman of Advocacy and Public Relations at UNICEF Hong Kong said: “Apart from the Philippines, child malnutrition still exists in many countries in East Asia and the Pacific, a region that has seen great economic progress in recent decades. Despite these improvements, there are still more than 85 million children under the age of five who are chronically malnourished or stunted across the region. These children are more likely to drop out of school, to have lower productivity as adults, and to suffer from chronic diseases in adulthood. But, we can surly make a change for the children by taking immediate action and making collective efforts with a sense of urgency.”
CASBAA, the association for media and broadcast in Asia, is also involved in the Award. CEO Christopher Slaughter said: “CASBAA congratulates GMA Network for their winning entry, ‘Reel Time: Bone Dry‘. We commend GMA Network for producing this program, which highlights the problems of child malnutrition in the Philippines, using television to spread the message.”
Dr Javad Mottaghi, Secretary General of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, said that the winning documentary showed the power that a simple documentary style could bring to even the smallest story. “The subject, Mary Rose, has almost nothing: no money, little food, a bare education and realistically a bleak future, yet this documentary for a short time elevates her to represent all the millions of children who live mostly on hope,” he said. “This short film is an example to all of us in the industry of how our program-making tools can be properly used with simplicity, skill and compassion.”
The Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award, created by ABU, CASBAA and UNICEF in 2001, is given annually to the best television programme produced in the Asia-Pacific region with a focus on children’s rights. The Award will be presented on 24 October in Hong Kong during the CASBAA Convention.