The English Surgeon, which had its national broadcast premiere on the POV (Point of View) series in 2009, has won a News & Documentary Emmy® Award for Outstanding Science and Technology Programming, it was announced last night by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Geoffrey Smith, the film’s director/producer; Simon Kilmurry, POV’s executive producer; and Cynthia López, POV’s executive vice president, accepted the award at the 31st Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Emmy Ceremony
Simon Kilmurry, Cynthia Lopez, Geoffrey Smith and Bob Simon onstage as Geoffrey Smith accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Science and Technology Programming for The English Surgeon.

What is it like to have power over life and death, and yet to struggle with your own humanity? The English Surgeon is the story of acclaimed British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who has traveled to Ukraine for 15 years to treat patients who have been left to die; of his friend and medical colleague in Kyiv, Dr. Igor Kurilets, who carries on the fight despite official hostility and archaic surgical conditions; and of a young patient who hopes that Henry can save his life. Tense, heartbreaking and humorous, The English Surgeon is a remarkable depiction of one doctor’s commitment to relieving suffering and of the emotional turmoil he undergoes in bringing hope to a desperate people. The film is a BBC/ITVS International production, produced in association with American Documentary/POV.

The English Surgeon was co-produced by Rachel Wexler and executive produced by Simon Kilmurry, Sally Jo Fifer, Nick Fraser and Greg Sanderson. The film has screened at more than 80 festivals around the world and won numerous awards, including Best International Feature Documentary at Hot Docs, SILVERDOCS and the Shanghai TV Festival and Audience Award at the Sheffield Film Festival, ZagrebDox and Docudays Kyiv.

“We are thrilled that the Academy has awarded an Emmy to The English Surgeon,” said Kilmurry. “It’s a remarkably powerful and inspiring film that shows that the art of independent documentary is alive and well.”

“Winning this award is indeed an honor,” said Smith. “Dr. Marsh, Dr. Kurilets and I are extremely encouraged by the outpouring of support the film has received. People have contacted the doctors directly to find ways to help, and a woman even went to Kyiv to visit the clinic. I thank ITVS, POV and everyone involved for providing the platform of a national telecast along with extensive community and educational outreach.”

About the filmmaker:
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Geoffrey Smith began traveling early, discovering a twin love for movies and storytelling along the way. In 1987 he found himself in Haiti, helping to make a documentary about the country’s first election in 31 years. Following the discovery of a massacre of 21 voters in a schoolyard, Smith was himself shot and wounded. After struggling to recover in London, he decided to go back to Haiti to find the man who had nearly killed him — and to film the whole thing. The resulting film, Searching for a Killer, won wide acclaim and was aired on the BBC. Smith discovered that the camera can be a powerful, cathartic tool in helping people through difficult periods and went on to build his subsequent work around that concept. The winner of numerous awards, he has made more than 22 films and has worked for all the major U.K. broadcasters. The English Surgeon marks his first Emmy Award.

Smith’s most recent film, Presumed Guilty (co-directed with Roberto Hernández), deals with criminal justice in Mexico. The film aired on POV in 2010 and has won awards at the Los Angeles Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, DocumentaMadrid, Guadalajara International Film Festival, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival and East End Film Festival. It will be released theatrically in Mexico on Dec. 3, 2010.

About Dr. Marsh:
Since 1988, Dr. Henry Marsh has been the senior consultant neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley’s/St. George’s hospital in London, one of the city’s largest neurosurgical departments, where he specializes in the surgical treatment of brain tumors. He is also a clinical professor of neurosurgery at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Honorary Consultant Neurosurgeon to the Royal Marsden Hospital, London and the University of Wales, Cardiff.

In the U.K., Marsh pioneered the use of “awake” brain surgery and cortical mapping in such surgery; he has conducted the largest personal series of these operations in the U.K. and one of the largest in Europe. He has written more than 80 peer-reviewed articles on neurosurgical subjects. Marsh has written and lectured widely on the impact of the built environment on hospital staff and patient outcomes. He has also delivered lectures on the neuroscientific aspects of consciousness and criminal responsibility.

Visit POV’s website for interviews, updates, lesson plans, discussion guides, video and more. Visit The English Surgeon‘s official website, for information, news and ways to help Dr. Marsh’s and Dr. Kurilets’ efforts in Ukraine.

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POV Pressroom
Produced by American Documentary, Inc., POV is public television’s premier showcase for nonfiction films. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. Always an innovator, POV discovers fresh new voices and creates interactive experiences that shine a light on social issues and elevate the art of storytelling. With our documentary broadcasts, original online programming and dynamic community engagement campaigns, we are committed to supporting films that capture the imagination and present diverse perspectives.