The Billion Pound Base – Dismantling Camp Bastion

November 28, 2014 | Frontline Bloggers

By Agnes Chambre

A preview screening of The Billion Pound Base – Dismantling Camp Bastion, followed by a Q&A session with director Richard Parry, producer Leslie Knott and executive producer Mike Lerner, was held at the Frontline Club on Thursday 27 November.

The film about Camp Bastian in Afghanistan is reportedly the first of its kind. Although a large number of films have been made about the country, including many made by the three people that were in discussion last night, this film was about the infrastructure of the camp. Learner described it as “Catch-22 meets The Office”.

Hunting for Osama bin Laden

November 26, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Robert Van Egghen

“How can you have a war on terror when terror is a tactic?” asks one of the American counter-terrorism analysts interviewed in Greg Barker‘s new film, Manhunt, about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, which was screened at the Frontline Club on Monday 24 November. Director Greg Barker joined the packed-out audience afterwards for a Q&A via Skype.


Greg Barker joins the Frontline Club audience for a Q&A via Skype from LA after the screening.

Violence and the traditions of colonialism

November 25, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Will Worley

A preview screening of Concerning Violence, followed by a discussion with Swedish director Göran Hugo Olsson, was held at the Frontline Club on Friday 21 November.

The film is based upon the seminal anti-colonialism book, The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon, a Martinique born psychiatrist who became involved with armed anti-colonial struggles, significantly in Algeria.

The production follows segments of archive footage, some extremely graphic, linked throughout by excerpts from the book, read by singer Lauryn Hill. Clips used were from African countries affected by the violence of colonisation in the late 20th century, such as Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso.

Olsson started the discussion by saying: “The film for me was just about the text. For me it’s just like a commercial for Fanon’s thinking.” He felt that the book “hadn’t had its proper place in society” and wanted to use it to illustrate problems of the modern day.


Göran Hugo Olsson in conversation at the Frontline Club

How to Freelance Safely – Part Two

November 19, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Graham Lanktree 

Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith chats with Ben De Pear of Channel, 4, Marcus Mabry of The New York Times, freelancer Emma Beals, and AFP’s David Williams.

As many major news organisations close foreign bureaus, freelancers are called on more and more to cover global conflicts. They face risks often without the structure, training and resources that come with having a large media outlet behind you.

Continuing a conversation that began at the end of October in New York at the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC), Vaughan Smith, founder of the Frontline Club, spoke with leading editors at the club in London on Tuesday 18 November. They discussed the importance of pay to reflect risk, training, and new ways of determining how much responsibility for freelancers news outlets should take on.

When a lie masquerades as the truth – questions of documentary filmmaking

November 18, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Elliott Goat

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.”

Janet Malcom, The Journalist and the Murderer

Hosting a debate on the role of fiction/nonfiction in documentary storytelling, David Wilson, founder of True/False film festival, chaired a panel of past True/False filmmakers Kevin Macdonald, Sarah Gavron and Beadie Finzi. He began by asking them all what it was that guided their decision making process that ultimately skirted the line between fictional representation and factual accuracy.

“When you find yourself in a position where you are investigating how to shape a story, how to shape a narrative, how do you determine whether you are going too far or you have not gone far enough . . . that this is right and this is wrong?”

True False

Photo by Dogwoof

Talking about Thailand

November 13, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Mackenzie Weinger

If the event on Wednesday 12 November had taken place in Thailand instead of at the Frontline Club in London, members of the Thailand: A Kingdom in Crisis panel could have been jailed.

That’s because panellists broke the Thai lèse majesté law — the crime of violating majesty — by discussing the country’s monarchy and talking frankly about the issues surrounding the royal succession. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is 86 and ailing, after all, and in May of this year the military staged its 12th successful coup since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

Thailand talk

From left: Simon Baptist, Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Eugénie Mérieau, Claudio Sopranzetti and Junya ‘Lek’ Yimprasert (via Skype) in conversation at the Frontline Club.

Ebola – “The solution is how countries are living with it”

November 11, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Francis Churchill

On Monday 10 November, the Frontline Club hosted a preview screening of Liberia – Living With Ebola, the first episode in Al Jazeera’s latest series of Africa Investigates. The film documented the impact of Ebola on those at the front line of the disease in Liberia, focusing on the communities worst hit and the healthcare workers who run the Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) and take away the highly infectious bodies of the dead.

Clive Patterson and Sorious Samura

Attacking the Devil: Illustrating the best of investigative journalism

November 10, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Georgia Luscombe

On Friday 7 November, the Frontline Club played host to award-winning journalist Marjorie Wallace and director Jacqui Morris (McCullin, 2012) for a preview screening of Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime, followed by a Q&A.

Attacking the Devil

As audience members stirred with sympathy for the victims of the thalidomide scandal, portrayed with honesty and dignity as they spoke directly to the camera, Wallace and Morris described their own determination to bring one of the greatest horrors of the post-war era to popular attention.

“You liberated them,” Morris said, “they thought that they were out there on their own.”

The End of the Wall: 25 Years After the Fall

November 6, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Graham Lanktree

Former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh speaks to the 2014 Copenhagen International Documentary Festival about his pivotal role in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The young Harvard-educated economist Miklós Németh didn’t dream he would play a decisive role in the fall of the Berlin Wall when he was appointed Prime Minister by Hungary’s Communist Party to fix the nation’s finances in late 1988. Only a year later he was at the centre of it all.

On Wednesday 5 November, the Frontline Club tuned in to the world premier of 1989, a new documentary by Anders Østergaard detailing the months and days of Németh’s tense political manoeuvring that precipitated demolition of the wall, as it was shown in 57 cities across Europe during the 2014 Copenhagen International Documentary Festival (CPH:DOX).

Michael Žantovský on Havel: Dissident, Playwright and Philosopher

November 4, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Tom Adams

Michael Žantovský

On 3 November the Frontline Club hosted an event organised by the Czech Centre London, the insight with Michael Žantovský was part of the ‘Made in Prague’ festival season. Michael Žantovský, who is the current Czech Ambassador to the Court of St James, was discussing his new book called Havel: A Life. 

Václav Havel was elected as President of Czechoslovakia in December of 1989 after 41 years of communist rule. His political activities during the communist regime brought him under the surveillance of the secret police and led to multiple prison stints, including a four-year incarceration between 1979 and 1983. His Civic Forum Party played a major role in the Velvet Revolution, and Havel himself was instrumental in dismantling the Warsaw Pact and expanding NATO eastwards.

Gabriella Coleman and the Many Faces of Anonymous

November 3, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Tom Adams 

Gabriella Coleman

On Thursday 30 October, an excited crowd packed the Frontline Club for an insight with Gabriella Coleman, currently the Wolfe Chair in scientific and technological literacy at McGill University, where she researches, writes about and teaches on computer hackers and digital activism.

In her latest publication, Coleman provides a unique insight into the mysterious group Anonymous. Ben Hammersley, presenter of the new BBC World News series ‘Cybercrime with Ben Hammersley’, which begins on Saturday 1 November, had the enviable task of discussing Coleman‘s new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.

CITIZENFOUR: Snooping and security

October 31, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Max Hallam

On Wednesday 29 October, the Frontline Club held a special preview screening of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras’s new film CITIZENFOUR ahead of its UK cinematic release on Friday 31 October.

Laura Poitras

While working on a documentary trilogy about post 9/11 America, Poitras began to receive encrypted emails from a subject known only as ‘Citizen Four’. This citizen claimed to be ready to blow the whistle on a global intelligence effort involving private information and communications of regular people. Poitras and confidant Glenn Greenwald flew to Kong Kong on Citizen Four’s instructions, where they would dissect the information he had to give them. It was here that Citizen Four revealed himself as the man we now know as Edward Snowden.

FOR SALE: Modern Day Slavery

October 29, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Elliott Goat

“Sometimes they don’t even know where here is.”

In the build up to the Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust Women Conference, on Monday 27 October the Frontline Club hosted a debate on modern day slavery and human trafficking chaired by Prabha Kotiswaran, senior lecturer in Law at King’s College London and advisor to the ILO-DFID Anti-Trafficking Project.

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Can news still change the course of history?

October 27, 2014 Frontline Bloggers Comment

By Antonia Roupell

“Does the Pubic Still Care?” was the poignant title of the discussion on conflict and disaster reporting which was chaired by Ben Parker at the Frontline Club on Thursday 23 October. The event was organised by the Oversees Development Institute and Humanitarian Policy Group. Channel 4 News anchor, Jon Snow, and senior reporter for the People and Power programme on Al Jazeera English, Juliana Ruhfus, were joined by experts in aid and development, Marc DuBois, former head of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Eva Svoboda, research fellow in the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute.

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The event was being followed online #crisisreporting

The Future of Journalism: Will we be better informed? Part Two

October 27, 2014 merryn.johnson Comment

By Josie Le Blond

What is the future of news? Will the public know more or less in the internet age? These questions were the focus of a panel discussion marking the launch of the autumn issue of Index on Censorship magazine at the Frontline Club on Wednesday 22 October.

Shrinking international news budgets, bureau closures, the rise of the freelancer and the citizen journalist all made for gloomy prognoses for the business-as-usual news model, agreed the panel chaired by The Times columnist, David Aaronovitch.


From left: David Aaronovitch, Amie Ferris-Rotman, Rachel Briggs and Richard Sambrook in conversation at the Frontline Club.