Open City Documentary Festival

News: MA Graduate Sarah Cowan Wins Student Award at the 2019 One World Media Awards


Last night, our 2018 MA graduate Sarah Cowan won the Student Award at the One World Media Awards, making it four wins in four consecutive years in the category for the Open City Docs UCL MA Ethnographic & Documentary Film programme. 

Open City Docs is delighted that 2018 UCL MA Ethnographic & Documentary Film graduate Sarah Cowan was announced as the winner of this year’s  Student Award at the One World Media Awards for her graduation film Anak Malaysia..

She was presented with the award by Matteo Bergamini, CEO of Shout Out UK, at last night’s awards ceremony at BAFTA celebrating journalistic excellence in international media coverage of the developing world.

Sarah Cowan is the fourth Open City Docs UCL MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film graduate to receive the award in four consecutive years, after Paul Zhou’s win for his film China in Ethiopia in 2018, Minmin Wu’s win for Waste in 2017, and Fernando González Mitjans’ win for Limpiadores in 2016.

Cowan’s winning film, Anak Malaysia sheds light on Malaysia’s hidden issue of statelessness, following the filmmaker’s stateless mother during the final stage of her latest citizenship application. She was one of the three nominees on the shortlist for the Student Award, all of whom were 2018 graduates of the UCL MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film programme.

Sarah Cowan said:I’d like to express my utmost thanks to UCL, Open City Docs and my tenacious tutors for giving young, aspiring filmmakers like me the training and platform to make multicultural, issue-based films. Through my mother’s story, my film aimed to shed light on the hidden issue of statelessness in Malaysia, and provide a platform for the voices of thousands like her to be heard.”

Michael Stewart, director of Open City Docs, said: “Not for nothing does UCL describe itself as ‘London’s Global University’. We have run an MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Filmmaking for four years now and every year since we launched a UCL graduate has won the One World Media Student Award which celebrates global storytelling. I salute the amazing achievements of our three students this year who occupied all of the shortlist slots and especially Sarah Cowan and her tutor Lucy Sandys-Winsch, bringing an unknown scandal to world attention.”

Established in 1988, the One World Media Awards recognise the best media coverage of developing countries, reflecting the social, political and cultural life of people around the globe. See the full list of winners here.