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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: Television Documentaries: Top 25 Markets


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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
SDX Awards: Television Documentaries: Top 25 Markets

Winners: Christiane Amanpour and CNN Productions Staff

by Jim Poyser

Osama bin Laden is the world’s most wanted terrorist. He haunts Americans and millions of others around the world. … He disappeared shortly after 9/11. And now, five years later, we still don’t know where he is … or when he will strike again.

He wasn’t a born leader … and didn’t always despise the west. So what changed bin Laden, what shaped this son of Saudi wealth into the most feared terrorist of our time?

CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour took viewers on a two-hour dramatic journey in Osama bin Laden’s footsteps, from his youth in Saudi Arabia to his homes and hideouts in Pakistan, Sudan and Afghanistan. Over the course of 10 months, Amanpour, senior producer Ken Shiffman and director/producer/editor Cliff Hackel conducted dozens of interviews in 10 countries on four continents. Their subjects included bin Laden’s English teacher, his childhood friend, his brother-in-law and a fellow mujahideen who lived with bin Laden for eight years. In the process, they provided a comprehensive portrait of bin Laden and his transformation from a peaceful teenager to the architect of 9/11.

Judges praised the “stunningly vast report on a story which unfolds over more than two decades. … Reported with attention to detail. As complete as television reporting can be.” They also noted that, “While offered as biography, the program becomes a powerful, clear-eyed portrait of religious movements, geo-political conflicts and ideologies.”

The documentary makers said, “The most difficult aspect of ‘In the Footsteps of Bin Laden’ was finding all the ‘footsteps.’ We took great pains to travel to out-of-the-way, sometimes dangerous places to authenticate our documentary. We did, indeed, walk in his footsteps in the making of our story.”

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