Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rest in Peace - Tim Hetherington

And then one place became more dangerous...

I just learned that photo-journalist/filmmaker, Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya while covering the conflict between the rebels and the government forces in Misrata. It has been reported that Heterington was wounded during a mortar shelling and died on 4/20/11 along with his colleague, American journalist Chris Hondros.

Tim Hetherington with camera

Tim may be best known for his work with Sebastian Junger on the documentary film Restrepo and his four World Press prizes.  British-born Tim Heatherington created short films about American G.I.’s he met in the  Korengal Valley and also produced Infidel, a book of photographs about the men of Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne.

Chris Hondros was an American photojournalist who was in Libya on assignment with Getty images. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his images of civil war in Liberia. to see his amazing images go to

Chris Hondros
Below is a link from the Commitee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization which defends the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. They have confirmed that 19 journalists were killed in 2011 (as of 6/9/11). 5 in Libya alone.

Rest in Peace, Tim. Rest in Peace, Chris Hondros

Making Movies in the Most Dangerous Place on Earth - RESTREPO

Outpost Restrepo in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan

What kind of camera do you choose when you are filming in the most dangerous place on earth?  What kind of camera do you use when you are a new documentarian shooting in the most dangerous place on earth?

From left: filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington at Outpost Restrepo named for Pfc. Juan "Doc" Restrepo who died in action
If you are first time documentarian Sebastian Junger (writer of the Perfect Storm) you use a Sony V1. His photo-journalist co-director Tim Hetherington shot on a Sony Z1
Sony V1u HDV camcorder
Sony makes a HVR-V1U, an HDV camcorder that allows filmmakers to shoot in 24p mimicking the shutter of film cameras. I think that function gives the “film” a dramatic cinematic quality. It records in HDV format which gives you hi def on mini tapes. 

Did I mention that Junger had to be taught to use the camcorder and always used it in autofocus mode?  Did I mention he used it in a dusty dirty battle outpost environment and under fire in the most dangerous place on earth, the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan?

The camera can be had for around $3200. 

Did I mention that they were nominated for an Academy Award?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Congratulations Mark Claywell, director of American Jihadist, winner of the Charleston International Film Festival Jury Award for Best Documentary.

Isa Abdullah Ali, the American Jihadist

American Jihadist is an independent film which takes the viewer into the turbulent yet thoughtful mind of an American-born militant jihadist. Clevin Holt, aka Isa Abdullah Ali, is especially fascinating to watch because he grew up in a ghetto of Washington D.C. He is one of us! It was here in America that he was first subjected to racism, bigotry and violence. It was here that he first learned the ugly lessons of extreme aggression.

Don't assume you know this man. Don't make any assumptions. Watch the trailer. See the film.

The film is now available at Amazon

Friday, May 13, 2011

Charleston International Film Festival

It's the 4th year of the Charleston International Film Festival and the films keep getting better, especially the documentaries.
(Full disclosure - my doc Tap Out is playing at the festival on Saturday, May 21 at 5:00 p.m. at the American Theater and I'm also a jurist. And, Tap Out is not up for an award for that reason!) 

I recommend American Jihadist directed by Mark Claywell for an unusual glimpse into the mind of Isa Abdullah Ali,

an African-American Muslim from Washington, DC.  The U.S. Defense Department refers to him as "a known terrorist," but has not charged him with any crime. A fascinating doc. It's plays on Sunday, May 21 at 3:00 at Cinebarre in Mt. Pleasant.

I also was very impressed by The Price of Sex. 
A terribly sad, but important film about poor East European women sold into the sex trade in Turkey and Dubai. Bulgarian journalist Mimi Chakarova offers some surprising commentary on the demise of the Communist Soviet Bloc and present day sex trafficking. Check it out. Unfortunately, it's playing at the same time as the American Jihadist at Cinebarre in Mt. Pleasant. That's Sunday the 21st. So you will have to choose between two excellent documentaries. Either way, you will not be disappointed. 

 There is a very short doc from Pistil Films that I truly liked. It's called Diddley Bow, and is directed by Jade Sullivan.  Jade is a young documentary filmmaker living in Charleston, and a diddley bow, as I learned thanks to Jade, is a simple, easy-to-construct, stringed instrument played with a slide. It's made with found things, can, figurines - simply brilliant.  Nice work, Jade!


What I Meant to Tell You 
Writer/Director: Ethan Dufault

(2010) 57 min.
If you have a ticket, lucky you. If not, find another way to see this story of poetry and defiance. 

Peter Kane Dufault is a contentious, political activist and poet who has been attacked for his political views in  the U.S. This is not the case in Great Britain where he is widely respected and read. 

"His embattled status as a poet and a political activist is part of his strength,” says son and director,Ethan Dufault. "He's refused to play the game, but his life has not been an easy one,” said Ethan Dufault. 

If you do nothing else, watch the trailer on the film's facebook page.