In a world of fake news, how can A Private War shed new light on the people caught up in the world’s conflict?
Tell too much of one side’s story and you get a propaganda machine; tell too little and the portrait of war’s brutality becomes lost.
Someone who never flinched away from telling the real story in any measure, however, was journalist Marie Colvin. Known for her characteristic eye patch after she lost her sight thanks to a grenade, the writer spent – and lost – her life covering conflict, reporting from war-torn countries including Syria and Kosovo.
However, Colvin didn’t go to these places to simply report the facts; more than that she wanted to give a voice to those without. As she travelled war zones across the Middle East and Asia, trekked jungles and reported under fire, it was her humanity that was her strength as a reporter.
“My job is to bear witness,” she told fellow journalist Roy Greenslade in 2001. “I have never been interested in knowing what make of plane had just bombed a village or whether the artillery that fired at it was 120mm or 155mm.”
It’s this story of an extraordinary woman that upcoming film A Private War, set for release on 8th November, hopes to tell. The film follows the journalist’s professional and personal life, her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and her commitment to telling the world the truth.
“When you start reading about her it’s hard to stop,” actress Rosamund Pike, who plays Colvin, told website deadline.com. “She’s sort of an infectious person. When she really spoke about what she was passionate about, her words were so powerful and she commanded such attention and respect that you can’t really turn away.
“Everything I read spoke to the fact that here is this incredibly impressive individual who went to places other people were fleeing from. But the fallout of all that integrity and all that fierceness was this very, very complicated personal life, and the effect of witnessing such trauma on your own brain.”
For director Matthew Heineman, now is the perfect time to show a different side to the industry in a world of fake news.
“At this time when journalism is under attack, it’s quite an important story to be told,” he told deadline.com. “Most of the extras were non-actors, refugees from those countries who are living in Jordan… They are telling their real stories.”
It was a message that photographer Paul Conroy, who was with Colvin during the explosion that killed her in 2012, still stands behind.
“At the moment [journalists] are under fire, you’ve got people like Trump who are not debating anymore,” he said at the film’s premiere in London. “If they don’t like it, they go ‘fake news’.
“Say it enough times and people start to believe it, so I think it’s really important that people get a glimpse of the fact there are people out there. We didn’t go all the way out there to come back and write nonsense, it was to find out reality.”
Also starring: Stanley Tucci and Jamie Dornan
Running time: 100 mins
WORDS Camille Hogg