Independent Lens Documentary Seoul Train Wins Prestigious DuPont Award

Broadcast journalism’s highest honor to be awarded tonight in New York City

(San Francisco, CA) The Independent Television Service (ITVS), announced today that one of its acclaimed films, SEOUL TRAIN, has been honored with broadcast journalism’s highest award: the Alfred I. duPont – Columbia University Award for excellence in television and radio journalism. 

Chosen from a pool of 526 entries, this year’s 14 duPont winners covered some of the world’s most critical issues, including the Iraq War, the devastation of Katrina, and the global AIDS crisis. This award marks the fifth for an ITVS film and a first for its Independent Lens series. The duPont Award, considered to be the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, was presented to SEOUL TRAIN’s producers and directors, Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth, both first-time filmmakers. 

According to Butterworth, “We made this film for one reason, to make a difference, so it’s extremely rewarding for the film to receive this kind of recognition. We cannot thank ITVS and PBS enough for having the courage to show this film and shed light on this important issue.” Sleeth added, “Receiving this award is a real testament to power of independent filmmaking. We were just two impassioned people that had never made a film before, so our being recognized like this should be encouraging for other independent filmmakers.” 

SEOUL TRAIN was produced by Incite Productions and ITVS, and was broadcast on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens (co-produced and co-currated by PBS and ITVS) commencing in December 2005. Series producer Lois Vossen said, “We were incredibly proud to premiere Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth’s insightful and important documentary SEOUL TRAIN on Independent Lens. It is one of those programs that captures you from the opening frames and takes you on a very riveting journey. SEOUL TRAIN epitomizes the best of Independent Lens in that it truly is a story you won’t see anywhere else on television.“ 

SEOUL TRAIN tells the story of a growing and potentially explosive humanitarian crisis that threatens East Asian peace: the plight of hundreds of thousands of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China. The Chinese Government does not recognize these North Koreans as refugees, but instead hunts them down and forcibly sends them back to North Korea, where it is a capital offense to defect. SEOUL TRAIN exposes the complex geopolitics and bureaucracy entangling the lives of these refugees, as well as the story of activists who put themselves in harm’s way to save them via a clandestine underground railroad. 

About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. Hosted this season by Terrence Howard, the acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at 

Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen. 

About ITVS 
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. 

About PBS 
PBS is a media enterprise that serves 354 public noncommercial television stations and reaches almost 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is a leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of other educational services. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (, continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org web sites on the internet. 

About Incite Productions and SEOUL TRAIN 
Founded by Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth, Incite Productions is a Colorado-based nonprofit that produces documentaries promoting positive social change around the world. Incite’s debut film, SEOUL TRAIN, has been in competition at more than seventy international film festivals, has won more than a dozen major festival awards, and has had national TV broadcasts in more than a dozen countries. SEOUL TRAIN has been translated into twenty languages and, most importantly, has inspired countless grassroots and policy-level actions worldwide. SEOUL TRAIN was produced by Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth of Incite Productions, directed by Jim Butterworth, Aaron Lubarsky and Lisa Sleeth, edited by Aaron Lubarsky, and executive produced for ITVS by Sally Jo Fifer. SEOUL TRAIN is distributed domestically by Incite Productions and outside the U.S. by Films Transit International ( Full credits and more information on the film can be obtained by visiting 

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Posted on January 17, 2007