Sorious Samura Biography

Sierra Leonean Sorious Samura is a filmmaker of international renown whose documentaries have been recognised worldwide, both for the courage of their photographic journalism and the impact of their message. Having made documentaries and programmes for various media outlets, he now resides in the UK and is a board member of Insight News Television. In 2003 Samura received an honorary doctorate from the University of East Anglia, England.

Samura's debut documentary "Cry Freetown" was first broadcast in January 2000. It is a brutal and gripping portrayal of atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's civil war. Risking his life to film the systematic murder of his fellow countrymen, Samura describes what he calls "a nation that was being murdered, a country that was dying, that was being left to die by the western world, by the so called developed world."

Samura received wide acclaim for "Cry Freetown". When the film created a stir at the United Nations headquarters in New York, London's Daily Express described him as "The Man Who Saved a Nation". Within four weeks of the film's transmission, plans were underway for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone.

In "Exodus" Samura traveled to Nigeria, Mali, The Sahara, Morocco and Spain as he followed African exiles in their attempt to make their way to the 'promised land' of Europe. The film saw Samura meet some of those trying to make the journey and follows their progress, whilst hearing of the hardships compelling them to leave their native lands.

"Return to Freetown" represents Samuraís return to his homeland to escort three brutalised child soldiers back to their civilian lives. "I have come back to find out what really happened to these children and to try to understand how and why so many of them were driven to kill," he says.

In 2002 Samura first reported on the plight of refugees being sexually abused by aid workers in Guinea. The news feature which went out on broadcasters such as CNN, CBC and Channel 4 caused a stir amongst the international aid community and contributed to the implementation of a new code of conduct.

Later in 2002 in the aftermath of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Samura took on a 2 part series entitled "21st Century War", a documentary that examined the future of warfare. The film, which was nominated for last year's One World Media Award, brought Sorious to Afghanistan, Somalia, Uzbekistan and Indonesia.

In his latest film, "Living With Hunger" Samura set out to understand the real stories of people living on the edge of starvation. He moved into a remote village in Ethiopia far away from the range of the UN and most NGO's. Between August and September 2003 Sorious lived in a hut and survived on the same meagre diet as the rest of the villagers.

Samura's films have won many prestigious awards including: a BAFTA (British Oscar), the Rory Peck and Mohamed Amin Awards, two Emmy Awards, two One World Media Awards, three Amnesty International Media Awards, a Columbia-DuPont Award, a Peabody Award, the Prix Europa, the Japan Prize, the Harry Chapin Media Award, three Overseas Press Club of America Awards, a Golden Nymph at the Monte Carlo Television Festival and a Bronze World Medal at the New York Festivals. Columbia University's graduate school of journalism has honoured Samura with a lifetime achievement award at its annual "Let's Do It Better" workshop on race relations.

Ron McCullagh
Managing Director, Insight News TV