Monday, February 15, 2010

HBO Documentary: 'Reporter' Nicholas Kristof Takes Us to Congo. Can He Make Us Care?

HBO is airing a documentary about one of our favorite videojournalists this Thursday (2/18, 9:30 p.m.). It's called "Reporter" and it's about the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning Nicholas Kristof. You get to see him in action as he mentors two American proteges on a 2007 perilous and heart-wrenching reporting trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) -- a wartorn country whose ongoing tragedies he has aggressively documented for years.

The documentary follows them to Congo's villages, refugee camps, and dangerous jungle hideouts for Tutsi leaders who have imported their violent form of warlord justice from Rwanda.

Kristof famously focuses on stories of individual victims as a means of shining a light on -- and calling international attention to -- the unfathomable 5.4 million Congolese who have been killed in the past decade, and to the suffering of countless more Africans who have been raped, tortured, orphaned and uprooted.

"Reporter" was made by Eric Daniel Metzgar, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker with two previous documentaries under his belt. Writes Kristof: "It conveys the texture of the kind of reporting I often do." It also incorporates commentary from his professional colleagues and admirers.

"Nick knows that statistics deaden his readers' interest and compassion. So to get the world to care, he goes in search of individuals whose stories will reflect the country's desperate crisis and mobilize readers worldwide. He journeys through ravaged villages and displacement camps, and makes a harrowing visit to Congo's reigning rebel warlord, General Nkunda, at his jungle hideout."

Metzgar appeared on PBS Now last Friday to discuss "Reporter," in an engaging interview with host David Brancaccio, "Caring About Congo."

Listen for the fascinating discussion of the morally ambiguous role of journalist as intervener in individual catastrophic situations, with footage of a particular scenario that raises significant ethical questions.

Even with the recent outpouring of support for earthquake victims in Haiti, Americans' attention span for global crises is usually very short. But is there a way to keep American audiences from tuning out important global issues of violence, poverty, and catastrophe far beyond their backyards?
Kristof also brings news of his bestseller, "Half the Sky," co-authored with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, on his 'On the Ground' blog:

Sheryl and I taped an evening called Half the Sky Live, in honor of International Women’s Day, and it will air in theaters around the US and Canada on March 4. You can find a local theater at The show includes an amazing new song by India Arie; the premier of a short film about an Ethiopian girl named Woinshet who is in our book, and a brief panel discussion with various eminences...

Nicholas Kristof's 'On the Ground' blog

"Reporter" Website

"Reporter" trailer

"Reporter" HBO info

More HBO documentaries

Nicholas Kristof on

No comments: