"A Thousand Cuts", the 2020 documentary on Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa's struggle for press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, has won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.
Directed, produced and written by Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz, "A Thousand Cuts" was recognized for its “excellent documentary film both journalistically and in terms of its realization", according to FRONTLINE, the investigative journalism program that produced it.
Given annually by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the award is given to outstanding reporting on human rights and social justice issues.
“[A Thousand Cuts] raises awareness of the political and societal problems in the Philippines, and how social media is used [to spread] lies of authoritarianism," the award-giving body's judges were quoted saying.
According to FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath, the human rights organization's recognition of the film affirms its call for the defense of press freedom across the world, where journalists are facing increasingly adverse conditions.
As founder of Rappler, the online news website known for its critical reporting of Duterte's war on drugs, Ressa has been the recipient of at least 10 arrest warrants from the Philippine government in less than two years—seen by advocates as a direct attack on the press.
“We are thrilled to see Ramona’s filmmaking — and Maria Ressa’s ongoing fight for press freedom in the Philippines — be recognized by the RFKs. 'A Thousand Cuts' embodies the mission of all journalists to hold people in power to account and illustrates the fragility of democracy when journalism isn’t embraced," Aronson-Rath said.
A year after the documentary came out, Ressa won the 2021 UNESCO Press Freedom Prize and the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, both in recognition of her story that represents journalists in today's struggling democracies.