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Media Freedom under the Spotlight
Sorious Samura has spent the last ten years as a filmmaker covering stories from hostile zones and gaining hard to get access. His documentaries have been recognized worldwide, both for the courage of their photographic journalism and the impact of their message. He has worked extensively in Africa, from his own country Sierra Leone’s civil war to war torn Somalia. During this five-year period he has also worked in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Guinea and the United States.
Samura’s debut documentary “Cry Freetown” was a brutal and gripping portrayal of atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war which prompted him to go to Liberia to try and understand their role in his country’s war. There, he and his colleagues were arrested and charged with espionage by Charles Taylor’s government but after International pressure were released after a week in prison.
Sorious has worked on a series of films in Africa which involved him personally experiencing life of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. In “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 meager diet as the rest of the villagers.
The following film “Living with Refugees” saw Sorious spend 6 weeks filming in a refugee camp in Chad. “Living with AIDS” was filmed in the summer of 2005 where he spent a month working in a hospital as a ward orderly in Zambia. “Living with Illegals” saw him travelling undercover as an illegal immigrant from Morocco, through Europe, into the UK. This was followed by “The Immigration Game” for BBC Newsnight which explored what life was like for illegal immigrants in modern Britain. In “How to get ahead in Africa” Sorious explored corruption in Kenya and Sierra Leone and in “Panorama: Addicted to Aid” he investigated how Western aid funds are lost due to corruption, and mismanagement. Most recently, Sorious investigated African attitudes to homosexuality for Dispatches, Channel 4.
For many of these films, Sorious worked undercover using hidden cameras. Samura latest film is about the polio outbreak in Congo Brazzaville.