Winner 2021

Escaping Eritrea

FRONTLINE, Channel 4

The task of fleeing Eritrea, the small nation sometimes reductively called the North Korea of Africa, is the kind of perilous journey that often goes unchronicled for fear of retaliation. Amid threat of incarceration, torture, and execution in a country with no free press, the subjects and filmmakers of the FRONTLINE documentary Escaping Eritrea conducted an unprecedented, years-long investigation. With rigor and care, the film captures not just the myriad abuses faced by Eritreans within the country and on various treacherous migration routes, but also the historical roots of the current regime. Deftly tying in archival clips that help tell the story of Eritrea’s interminable war against Ethiopian annexation, Escaping Eritrea documents how Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki has held onto power for over three decades by mandating indefinite military service for Eritrean nationals as young as 16, extinguishing journalistic freedom, and stoking fear with arbitrary detentions and torture. Utilizing footage secretly filmed within prisons, as well as interviews in refugee camps and holding areas, the documentary presents a rare exploration of the dire humanitarian crisis that’s long plagued the East African nation and its conflicted diaspora. For its unflinching look at the horrors unfolding in the country, the courage of its refugees, and the stakes of the region’s conflicts, we recognize Escaping Eritrea as a Peabody winner.


Network/Station/Platform:  PBS / GBH / FRONTLINE. Executive Producer:  Raney Aronson-Rath. Managing Editor: Andrew Metz. Senior Producer:  Dan Edge. Director:  Evan Williams. Producer:  Evan Williams. Producer:  Eve Lucas. Editor:  Bradley Manning. Narrator:  Sophie Okonedo. Cinematography:  Andrew Thompson. Original Music:  Nick Phillips.