Maggie O'Kane

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Maggie O'Kane is an award-winning Irish journalist and documentary film maker. She has been most associated with The Guardian newspaper where she was a foreign correspondent who filed graphic stories from Sarajevo while it was under siege between 1992 and 1996.[1] She also contributed to the BBC from Bosnia.[2] She has been editorial director of GuardianFilms, the paper's film unit, since 2004.[3]

Education[edit]

She received secondary education at Loreto Convent, Balbriggan, County Dublin, Ireland; B.A. (Hons) in Politics and History at University College Dublin before studying at the Institut des Journalistes en Europe in Paris.

Career[edit]

Awards[edit]

Guardian Films[edit]

In its first three years, her company made 30 films – mostly for television – including the Baghdad Blogger reports, featuring Baghdad resident 'Salam Pax' – whose blog Where is Raed? was printed in The Guardian and New York Times during the occupation of his city. They were shown on BBC Two's Newsnight programme. Some of these were also shown in 2007 in two collections by CNN International.

Kane was also reporter in Sex On The Streets, made by GuardianFilms for the UK's Channel 4 television channel. It focussed on violence against women working as prostitutes. "Even their deaths often pass unmarked, and they make up the largest single group of unsolved murders in Britain," said O'Kane.[5] She was also reporter in the company's Spiked – also for Channel 4 – about the use date rape drugs. In the first half of 2007, GuardianFilms won two Amnesty International awards and a RTS award for its Iraq coverage.

"GuardianFilms was born in a sleeping bag in the Burmese rainforest," she wrote in 2003.[6] "I was a foreign correspondent for the paper, and it had taken me weeks of negotiations, dealing with shady contacts and a lot of walking to reach the cigar-smoking Karen twins — the boy soldiers who were leading attacks against the country's ruling junta. After I had reached them and written a cover story for the newspaper's G2 section, I got a call from the BBC's documentary department, which was researching a film on child soldiers. Could I give them all my contacts?"

"The plight of the Karen people, who were forced into slave labour in the rainforest to build pipelines for oil companies (some of them British), was a tale of human suffering that needed to be told by any branch of the media that was interested. I handed over all the names and numbers I had, as well as details of the secret route through Thailand to get into Burma. Afterwards — and not for the first time — it seemed to me that we at the Guardian should be using our resources ourselves. Instead of providing contact numbers for any independent TV company prepared to get on the phone to a journalist, we should make our own films."

On 15 March 2013 it was reported by the Real News Network that Maggie had just finished producing a documentary on behalf of Guardian Films, of which she is the multimedia editor. The film is an investigation of the war crimes committed in Iraq on behalf of the Bush Administration, focusing on the roles played in the trickle-down military system. She argues, through her documentary, that the United States army, in order to quell Sunni rebellion and insurgency, armed and funded national, radical Shia militants to aid them in quelling Sunni insurgency. Subsequently, this Shia "police force" came to number approximately 12,000 men and are reported to have acted as, not containment forces, but as death squads, their killings reaching 3,000 per month at their height.[7]

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