Winner 2001

CNN Presents: “Beneath the Veil” and “Unholy War”

Hardcash Productions, Channel 4 International, and CNN Productions (Atlanta)

In two exceptional documentaries, Investigative Reporter Saira Shah and Cameraman James Miller create unforgettable before-and-after images of contemporary Afghanistan. CNN Productions Executive Producer Vivian Schiller and Supervising Producer Jennifer Hyde helped bring these riveting programs to audiences throughout the world. Executive produced by Hardcash’s David Henshaw, produced and directed by Cassian Harrison and filmed at great personal risk in Shah’s ancestral homeland by James Miller, the pre-September 11 program Beneath the Veil shows life under the iron rule of the Taliban—the ruins of Kabul, public executions, sites of alleged Taliban massacres, and the forbidden underground network of women struggling to survive. In developing this report, Shah, Miller, and Harrison were briefly detained by the Taliban’s Ministry for the Prohibition of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue and forced to use hidden cameras to capture their chilling report. Among the most heartrending scenes is Shah’s interview with three girls, then ages 9, 12, and 15, who saw their mother shot to death. The search for these girls forms the narrative structure for the sequel, Unholy War, filmed and directed by Miller and reported by Shah. This follow-up shows how much—and how little—life has changed for the Afghan people since the Afghanistan bombing campaign began. When Shah finally finds the girls and offers assistance to relocate the family, the father’s rebuff, saying they would become outsiders if they left their village, becomes a telling metaphor for Western preconceptions of this complex nation. For these deeply personal accounts of the terror and violence of repression in Afghanistan under the Taliban and of the continuing conflict in this troubled land, a Peabody Award goes to CNN Presents: “Beneath the Veil” and “Unholy War.”