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The most internationally-awarded broadcast network in Philippine Television has once again brought honors to the country, winning seven medals and five certificates at the prestigious 2017 US International Film & Video Festival, including a Gold Camera award and “Best of Festivals” nomination for top-notch documentary program I-Witness.

I-Witness’ winning episode, “Busal,” earned a Gold Camera award in the Documentary: News Programming-Public Affairs Programs category. The documentary produced by the team of GMA News Pillar Howie Severino showed members of the urban poor airing their grievances and hopes amid the present administration’s anti-drug campaign. It gave a face on the direct consequences of the anti-drug campaign through the eyes of those who belong to this marginalized sector of society.

“Busal” is also in the running for the Best of Festival Award, a recognition presented to an outstanding entry from among the Gold Camera winners in each production type.

Meanwhile, another GMA Public Affairs program, Front Row, took home two Silver Screen awards for documentaries “Bata sa Bintana” and “Mga Barya ni Lola Maria”.

“Bata sa Bintana”, which won in the Documentary: Health/Medical category, featured the story of 13-year-old boy Zoren whose health conditions rendered him so weak that his contact to the outside world was only through their window. After its airing, the government sent regional representatives to check on the child’s situation. A group of doctors and other individuals have also committed to extend help for Zoren.

“Mga Barya ni Lola Maria”, meanwhile, emerged as winner in the Documentary: Biography category. The documentary showed how a 74-year-old woman from the Badjao tribe worked at the port in Lucena City by waiting for boat passengers to toss her coins which she would dive for. She did this to feed and send her grand kids to school.

Another I-Witness documentary, “Body Collector,” won a Silver Screen award in the Documentary-Current Affairs category. The documentary by Cesar Apolinario was produced at the time when the issue on extrajudicial killings was already gaining traction in the local and international media. “Body Collector” aimed to give viewers an insight on the bloody drug war through different perspectives.

Motorcycle Diaries’ “Lason sa Paraiso” gave GMA Public Affairs its fourth Silver Camera award, winning in the Documentary-Environment, Ecology category. The episode visited Boac, Marinduque and its residents who were still trying to recover from the 1996 mine disaster.

GMA News TV’s Reel Time, meanwhile, won a Silver Screen award for its “Maling Akala” episode in the Documentary: Political, Government category. The winning piece tackled the deaths amid the anti-narcotics drive since President Rodrigo Duterte took power in 2016. Several deaths resulted from what many are believed to be vigilante murders, which Duterte has refused to condemn. Reel Time gathered accounts from the victims’ relatives and reporters who cover the police beat.

GMA Entertainment group also took home a Silver Screen award for I Bilib in the Entertainment: Children’s category. The weekly infotainment show hosted by Chris Tiu features scientific experiments and explores different scientific facts and theories surrounding everyday events presented in magical manner.

In addition to the abovementioned awards, GMA Network also took home “Certificate for Creative Excellence” for the following: Alamat (Entertainment: Children category); “Pasan-Pasang Pangarap” by Reporter’s Notebook (Public Affairs Programs category); GMA News TV programs Brigada (Magazine Format category) and Reel Time’s “Isinulat sa Tubig” (Social Issues category); and GMA Entertainment TV’s Idol sa Kusina (Cooking category).

Now on its 50th year, the US International Film & Video Festivals has been recognizing outstanding corporate, education, entertainment, documentary, and student productions all over the world.

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