A powerful, emotional and honest documentary giving the Welsh angle on the Hillsborough disaster has won the Spirit of the Festival award at the Celtic Media Festival.
Hillsborough: Yr Hunllef Hir (translated: The Long Nightmare), a Rondo Media production, was selected by the panel of judges from among all the nominees shortlisted for this year's festival, which included outstanding production from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Britany and other Celtic countries.
The Spirit of the Festival is the festival's most important prize, given to the programme or series of the highest standard which was produced entirely, or mainly, in a Celtic language. The award was presented during the festival's closing ceremony, held this year in Llanelli, on Friday 4 May 2018. It was one of four awards given to S4C programmes and series' this year.
Hillsborough: Yr Hunllef Hir was chosen by the judging panel for its sensitive presentation of the stories of those people who witnessed one of the worst disasters of the past 30 years, when 96 people were killed in a crush at Sheffield Hillsborough stadium, during the FA Cup Final on 15 April 1989. The programme saw presenter and producer Dylan Llewelyn talk openly about the effect the day had on him and other supporters who witnessed the tragedy, and the long battle for justice.
Dylan Llewelyn, who presented the programme and co-produced with Caryl Ebenezer of Rondo Media, says; "The name Hillsborough and the 96 who died are familiar to many, and we all sympathise with empathy for their loss and suffering. But the effects of that day spread much further than Liverpool FC, and telling the story of the north Wales fans gave an angle that had not been seen before. This was important, and the small team who worked on the programme gave it their all to treat a subject and human story with the utmost sensitivity.
"We're thankful to those people who came forward to share their feelings and experiences ,bravely and honestly, in the programme. But also, to those who wanted to talk but couldn't in the end, we're glad that we have, for the first time, highlighted their stories and the thousands of others who have lived with the long-term effects of what they saw on that day.
"I'm grateful that the programme has been given this important recognition, but accepting the award was a bittersweet experience for me, Caryl and the team because of the very reason why it had to be made in the first place. Despite my pride in the programme, personally, the process of opening myself up and revisiting painful experiences publicly was hard, as it was for the others who took part. I think this is why the programme won, because of the Welsh angle in their story which, until then, had remained untold. The door was closed for too long, and I hope we have helped them in some way. It's a journey we will never forget."
The award has been welcomed by Professor Phil Scraton, author of Hillsborough: The Truth and member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which has praised the programme for drawing attention to the long-term effects of the disaster on thousands of people.
Professor Phil Scraton PhD, DLaws (Hon), says; “Rondo Media's Hillsborough: Yr Hunllef Hir is an outstanding documentary profoundly relevant beyond football or sport. It reminds us that the suffering of bereavement and survival extended well beyond Merseyside. Dylan Llewelyn's personal and professional commitment to honouring that suffering, demonstrating the impact of injustice over three decades, is outstanding. Thank you Dylan, Caryl, Luned and Gareth and all at Rondo. You Will Never Walk Alone.”
Amanda Rees, S4C Director of Content, praises the producers for their craft of portraying the effects of the tragedy through personal stories; "The horror of what happened in Hillsborough is familiar to the audience. But by giving a voice to the individuals who witnessed the tragedy and were part of the battle for the truth, this programme offers a new, unique and candid interpretation of what happened in Hillsborough.
"Caryl Ebenezer and Dylan Llewelyn's craft as film makers was to use personal stories to show just how much the thousands of witnessed were affected by what they saw. I'd like to thank Llion Iwan for commissioning the programme, the producers and entire team at Rondo Media for making it a reality. We'd also like to that the contributors for their bravery in sharing their experiences in this unique and important programme. It's an honour that it has received this recognition as a programme which sums up the spirit of the Celtic Media Festival."
This leading prize was one of four awarded to S4C programmes and series' at the 2018 Celtic Media Festival Awards. Another winner at the closing ceremony on Friday 4 May was the hit drama series Bang (Joio), which took the best Drama Series award.
The channel's entertainment programmes impressed the critics as Y Salon (Boom Cymru) won the award for Best Entertainment in the ceremony on Wednesday 3 May. And on Thursday the Factual Entertainment category, the ground-breaking social experiment in intergenerational care, Hen Blant Bach (Darlun), took home the gong.
Amanda Rees, S4C's Content Director, said: "Congratulations to all the companies on their success. Y Salon has obviously raised a smile from the judges as well as from our viewers and another award for Bang is recognition that Wales has the talent to create dramas of international calibre. And as the Hen Blant Bach experiment has gained attention from around the world, it shows S4C's fearlessness when commissioning innovative programs of social importance."