The New Censorship and the Global Battle for Press Freedom

March 19, 2015 | Phoebe Hall

By Josie Leblond

What are journalists worth in an age where anyone can tell their own story online? Has their diminishing value led to the growing violence against journalists across the world? This is the argument that executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Joel Simon, put forward at the Frontline Club on Tuesday 17 March. Following the release of his latest book, A New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom, Simon joined an engaged audience to discuss the reasons behind this ongoing diminishing of press freedom on a global scale. The discussion spanned from the current global spike in the murder, kidnapping and intimidation of journalists, to the futility of media blackouts, to the ways in which the internet has permanently changed the face of the news industry.

new censorship

l-r: Richard Sambrook and Joel Simon

George Blake: Masterspy of Moscow

March 19, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Helena Kardova

On Monday 16 March, the Frontline Club hosted a preview screening of Masterspy of Moscow – George Blake, directed by George Carey. The film, which will be broadcast on Monday 23 March by BBC 4 Storyville, traces the life story of the legendary George Blake, a British diplomat who became a longterm double agent for the Soviet Union. Masterspy of Moscow clarifies the many myths surrounding Blake that persist, and culminates with an interview with the protagonist himself, from his cabin in the woods outside of Moscow.

George Carey

Director George Carey

Media censorship, broadcast funding, and The World According to Russia Today

March 16, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Josie Le Blond


l-r: Richard Gizbert, Peter Pomerantsev, Ben Judah and Misja Pekel

Who shot down MH17? For international TV channel Russia Today (RT), whose tag line is “Question More,” the truth has many faces. But is the Kremlin-backed channel’s post-modernist approach to news threatening to undermine empirical journalism? That was the subject of a panel Q&A following the UK premiere of Misja Pekel‘s film The World According to Russia Today on Friday 13 March at the Frontline Club. RT declined to participate in the discussion, though Frontline noted that the event was organised with the expectation of having an RT representative present to offer their own perspective of the film and its claims.

The American Whistleblowers who will not be Silenced

March 10, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

American whistleblowers  at Frontline March 9.

Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake

Whether they spoke out against torture or mass surveillance, government officials who blew the whistle on the deplorable changes made to U.S. legislation after the 9/11 attacks have been left bankrupted, broke and broken.

The documentary Silenced, directed by James Spione and screened at the Frontline Club on Monday 9 March, follows the cases of three prominent whistleblowers who confronted and made public the unlawful practices of U.S. authorities.

Lynsey Addario: Stories of a War Photographer

March 4, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Francis Churchill

On Tuesday 3 March, veteran photojournalist Lynsey Addario shared stories from her years covering conflict and human rights crises with a packed audience at the Frontline Club. In a discussion chaired by Alexia Singh, editor-in-charge of Reuters Wider Image, Addario shared insights from her time embedding with the US military in Afghanistan, her capture by Libyan government forces and her experiences of censorship by certain facets of the American press.

Linsey Addario

Lynsey Addario

Nature: A Financial Commodity?

March 4, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Robert Van Egghen

“We use nature because she’s valuable, and we lose nature because she’s free,” comments Pavan Sukhdev in Banking Nature, which screened at the Frontline Club on Monday 2 March. Sukhdev, the CEO of Gist Advisory, is just one of the multitude of economists, analysts and activists interviewed in the film, which focuses on the commercialisation of the natural world. After the screening, director Sandrine Feydel joined the audience for an insightful discussion.


Sandrine Feydel

Shorts Night: Far from Home

March 2, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Heenali Patel

On Friday 27 March, the Frontline Club partnered with the London School of Economics to host a series of films for the 7th annual LSE Literary Festival. The external screening, at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, was packed out with members of the public for a night of short films exploring the foundations of identity and place. The five films took the audience on a journey to far flung corners of the earth, from rural Turkey to the Arctic Circle. While striking in their different visual styles, each shared a common thread by providing intimate snapshots of the lives of displaced individuals, traumatised and trapped in alien landscapes.

Afghanistan: Lessons Of War

February 26, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Isabel Gonzalez-Prendergast

On 25 February, a panel of experts convened at the Frontline Club for a discussion on the war in Afghanistan and its ongoing legacy. Chaired by BBC Afghanistan correspondent, David Loyn, the debate spanned the period from 11 September 2001 to the present day.


L-R: Mike Martin, Jawed Nader, David Loyn, Major General Jonathan Shaw and Jack Fairweather

World Stories: bringing documentaries to “the poorest people”

February 26, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Javier Pérez de la Cruz

“What World Stories and the Why Foundation are doing is bringing very important, powerful documentaries to greater attention and to international audiences,” said Richard Porter, controller of BBC World Service English, on Tuesday 24 February at the Frontline Club. The event marked the launch of the World Stories series, an international documentary initiative, and featured a screening of one of the organisation’s most recent films: My Afghanistan – Everyday Stories of Bombs and Bullets, by Danish filmmaker Nagieb Khaja.

L-R: Nagieb Khaja and Christoffer Guldbrandsen

L-R: Nagieb Khaja and Christoffer Guldbrandsen

Delhi’s Endangered Artist Colony

February 24, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Georgia Luscombe

On Monday 23 February, a screening of Tomorrow We Disappear transported an audience at the Frontline Club in rainy central London to the vibrant Kathputli slum in Delhi. The film follows the families of acrobats, magicians, painters and puppeteers resident in the artist colony of Kathputli as they battle the authorities who have sold their land to private developers. This screening of Tomorrow We Disappear, a sensitive and genuine depiction of the inhabitants of India’s “tinsel slum,” was followed by a Q&A with directors Jimmy Goldblum and Adam Weber.

The filmmakers began the discussion by commenting on their masterful use of sound and lighting in the film. “We really took our time from a technical perspective,” Weber said. In order to capture truly natural moments, the filmmakers planted microphones throughout the slum. “We would walk around covertly to collect audio,” Goldblum explained.

“In documentary, it’s really important to understand the obstructions you’re working with… we had to have a very tactical approach.”


The bright colours of the puppets and costumes of the artists and performers, along with the warm Indian sunlight, awarded the film a cinematic quality which would have been difficult to recreate in another location. The directors explained how they went to New Delhi to start filming after realising that the mystic place of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children was in fact real. The story of the residents of Kathputli was one “that spoke to us on so many levels.”

Goldblum explained how the filming had to take place over several years as they conducted initial interviews, identified the origins of the characters and the story, then watched the conflict unfold with the Raheja developers. “We would leave and we would edit for basically a year,” he said. “We were constantly creating and destroying our movie until we got something that was emotionally honest.”

An audience member wondered how two American documentarians had succeeded in creating such an emotionally honest documentary about a culture of which they were not a part. Weber and Goldblum suggested that the universality of the experience of the Kathputli artists, whose cultural heritage was in the process of being eroded by modernisation, made it possible for them to accurately portray their story.

Goldblum also paid testament to the translator on their second trip to New Delhi, a fellow American who had been fascinated with Indian culture since the age of fourteen, which enabled them to establish a “peer to peer” relationship with the artists. The translator’s “respect for the culture allowed us to build relationships on the ground,” Goldblum explained.



Despite the language barrier, Weber described how “over time we got so comfortable with them… that we picked up a way of communicating.” The film pays witness to heated disputes amongst the artists about how best to deal with the threat of their homes being destroyed. It also offers a snapshot of the incredibly personal moments of its protagonists, such as a young boy entertaining himself by bringing his puppets to life in a dimly-lit room.

“Sometimes it [the language barrier] works in your favour,” Weber explained. “The camera sort of disappears… and characters are just living out a scene very genuinely in front of us.”

“I think our outsider status worked,” Goldblum added.

Although only around 300 of 3,000 people have moved into the ‘transit camp’ (temporary accommodation whilst the slum is renovated into modern flats), the situation in the Kathputli colony remains tense as its inhabitants refuse to leave their homes. The bulldozers have not yet arrived but small incidents often turn into full scale police raids.

For more information on the Kathputli colony and Tomorrow We Disappear, visit the film’s website here.

UK Premiere of Born in Gaza

February 24, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Francis Churchill

Although the latest wave of violence has ended, the suffering in Gaza has not. This was the story that director Hernan Zin wanted to tell with his new film Born in Gaza, which held its UK premiere at the Frontline Club on 20 February.

Born in Gaza weaves together the testimonies of Gaza’s youth, in order to paint a picture of the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict. Zin interviews children who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their family members, as well as those who have themselves been injured by Israeli shelling during repeated attacks in the summer of 2014.

Hernan Zin

Hernan Zin

Beyond the limit: Peter Greste recounts a year in Egyptian prison

February 24, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Richard Nield

In an emotional and inspiring interview at the Frontline Club on 19 February, little more than two weeks after his release from an Egyptian prison, Australian journalist Peter Greste spoke of his experience of being incarcerated for more than 400 days for nothing more than doing his job as a journalist.

Peter Greste, Frontline Club 19 February 2015. Photo Richard NieldGreeted by a standing ovation, Greste took to the stage, beaming to the crowded room and waving to friends and colleagues. It was Greste’s first visit to London since he was released on 2 February under a presidential decree that allowed for the deportation of foreigners accused of crimes on Egyptian soil.

Facing up to what was originally a seven-year sentence had changed him as a person, said Greste, but he felt empowered to have discovered that the limits to what he could endure were beyond what he had ever expected.

Libya: “Stuck in a Zero-Sum Game”

February 20, 2015 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Richard Nield
Photo credit: Richard Nield

In a week in which Egypt sent F16 jets into Libya in response to the broadcast of an Islamic State video showing the execution of at least a dozen Egyptians, the Frontline Club held a timely event examining the reasons behind Libya’s slide into civil war.

The event was held on 18 February, a day after Libyans marked the fourth anniversary of the revolution that brought an end to the regime of Muammar Gaddafi after almost 42 years in power.

Mary Fitzgerald, journalist who has been reporting from Libya since February 2011. Photo by Richard Nield

Mary Fitzgerald

But there is little for Libyans to celebrate.

“The speed of Libya’s unravelling has been quite extraordinary,” said Mary Fitzgerald, a journalist who has reported from Libya since February 2011, and contributor to a recently published collection of essays entitled The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath.

Peter Greste at the Frontline Club

February 20, 2015 Millicent Teasdale Comment

Peter Greste speaking to Sue Turton at the Frontline Club on 19 February 2015.

Photos by Francis Churchill



Me-Mo: Pushing the Limits of Visual Storytelling

February 19, 2015 Frontline Bloggers 1 Comment

By Alexandra Sarabia

The plethora of technology now available to communicate different forms of journalism, across a variety of platforms, has allowed journalists more freedom in their storytelling process. This is the driving force behind Me-Mo, a new multimedia magazine created by award-winning freelance photojournalists, Manu Brabo and Fabio Bucciarelli, in partnership with web-developing group, Libre.

(l-r) Matteo Dispenza, Manu Brabo, Fabio Bucciarelli and Paul Lowe

On Tuesday 17 February, Brabo and Bucciarelli, along with Libre president Matteo Dispenza, convened at the Frontline Club to discuss the genesis of Me-Mo and to share their thoughts on the future of visual storytelling. The two photojournalists also presented their work on the Libyan revolution, which is featured in the magazine’s recently released first issue. The event was chaired by Paul Lowe, course director of the Masters Programme in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.