On Wednesday 4 December the Frontline Club welcomed Jineth Bedoya Lima, a journalist with Colombian national newspaper El Tiempo and recipient of the 2012 International Women of Courage Award, to discuss her prolific journalistic career and work in combatting violence against women. The discussion, chaired by The Guardian’s Ed Vulliamy, largely focused on the “habitual, extensive, and systematic violation” of women in Colombia, the record levels of impunity for crimes of sexual violence, and Colombia’s peace process.
Whilst on assignment for the daily newspaper El Espectador in her native Colombia, Jineth Bedoya Lima was abducted, tortured and raped by members of the AUC, a right-wing paramilitary group. She was kidnapped again in 2003 by left-wing FARC guerrillas whilst investigating a FARC-held town forced into cocaine production. Vulliamy introduced Bedoya Lima with the statement that “in terms of courage and endurance and experience, there’s nobody…who knows what Jineth knows.”
L-R: Ed Vulliamy, Jineth Bedoya Lima, James Lupton
On Monday 25 November an audience gathered at the Frontline Club for a preview screening of the new biopic of Nelson Mandela, based on his autobiographical book, Long Walk to Freedom. The film, starring London born actor Idris Elba in the title role, intimately portrays the iconic figure throughout his life, against the complex political backdrop of apartheid- South Africa. The credits were met with rapturous applause from the audience. A Q&A session with the film’s screenwriter Bill Nicholson, chaired by the BBC’s Audrey Brown, followed the screening.
The beginning portion of the film depicts Mandela as a younger man. When asked whether he thought audiences might learn anything new about Mandela from the film, Nicholson suggested:
“The majority of people would not have been aware that as a young man he was a successful lawyer who wanted to get rich, who was very sexy, who was a womaniser, who was not interested in being a political leader. That, I think, will be relatively new to people.”
L-R: Bill Nicholson with Audrey Brown. Photo: Fred Heritage
What do a dead poet, organised crime and the air we breathe have in common? On Thursday 21 November the Frontline Club screened The Carbon Crooks – director Tom Heinemann’s exposé of the massive fraud and failures within global carbon trading schemes.
Heinemann introduced his picture thus:
“This film is a about a system where, one could say everybody are crooks, or nobody are crooks. . . . How can you nail a whole system? That was the challenge in this film. Maybe you’ll find a lot of crooks in this film, or maybe you’ll find no crooks.”
Director Tom Heinemann. Photography Credit: George Symonds
With the dangers of reporting and documenting conflict or uprisings claiming many lives every year, drones seem to be a practical and safe alternative to otherwise dangerous missions. On Wednesday 20 November, the Frontline Club hosted a panel discussion chaired by Richard Sambrook, professor of journalism at Cardiff University and a former BBC Global News director. The five-person panel debated the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the field, touching on ethics, law and the safety, as well as the advantages, it brings to journalism.
L-R: Tom Hannen, Professor Robert Picard, David Goldberg, Gerry Corbett and Richard Sambrook. Photo: Greta Hoffman
In October the Frontline Club held a tenth anniversary exhibition at the Prix Bayeux Awards and on 13 November they welcomed Prix Bayeux to London for an event to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. The event brought together past winners who each presented their distinguished pieces of reporting and looked back on 20 years of reporting conflict.
The evening was opened by Jon Swain, award winning journalist and guest president of the Prix Bayeux jury, who explained how the awards are very much about the work produced rather than, as is often the case, who knows who. The discussion was chaired by Frontline Club founder and 2011 Bayeux-Calvados award winner, Vaughan Smith.
L-R Vaughan Smith, Adrien Jaulmes, Neil Connery, Christina Lamb and Jeremy Bowen
On 11 November, the Frontline Club hosted the screening of Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia. Finished less than a year after Vidal’s death, the film gave an intimate and in-depth insight into Vidal’s life and career as a writer and political commentator. The screening was followed by a lively Q&A with director Nicolas Wrathall.
Director Nicholas Wrathall taking questions from the audience. Photo: Greta Hoffman
The film starts with Vidal standing next to the tomb he has picked out for his companion Howard Auster and himself - it already has his name on it. From there, it takes the audience on an emotional journey through Vidal’s childhood and adolescence with his politician grandfather Thomas Gore, right up to his own career as a writer, political commentator and public figure. The film also touches on his friendship with famous people such as John F. Kennedy, Bruce Springsteen and Tennessee Williams, portraying a man “who was everywhere at once, all the time.”
Preview Screening: North Korea – Life Inside the Secret State
North Korea is the most totalitarian regime still in existence, yet knowledge of the outside world is slowly but relentlessly filtering in, in the form of USB sticks and wind-up radios. Channel 4′s Dispatches followed North Korean defector Mr Chung and Japanese journalist Jiro Ishimaru, who smuggle information and video footage in and out of North Korea.
On 5 November, No Fire Zone was shown at Riverside Studios as part of a series of Between the Lines follow up events hosted by Frontline Club and DocHouse. This documentary chronicles the last 138 days of the civil war in Sri Lanka, revealing the brutal tactics employed by the Sri Lankan army and government against the Tamil population. The screeninng was followed by a lively Q&A with director, Callum Macrae, who introduced the film as evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and warned the audience to prepare themselves accordingly for the images they were about to see.
The film uses footage taken by civilians, Tamil Tigers and government soldiers, plus testimonies from civilian survivors and UN officials, forming a harrowing and disturbing picture of the final stages of the 26-year civil war, where an estimated 40,000 – 70,000 Tamil civilians were massacred by the government’s military. The title of the film refers to the government-allocated no fire zones that were set-up as safe areas for Tamil civilians, which the military then purposefully attacked.
In 2007, what would become the most expensive Olympic Games in history was announced. Sochi, on the banks of the Black Sea and known as the Florida of Russia – complete with palm trees and sandy beaches – would host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
On Monday 28 October, the Frontline Club screened The Engineer, a documentary uncovering the extent of gang violence in El Salvador directed by Mathew Charles and Juan Passarelli. The Q&A that followed was chaired by Stephen Jukes, Dean of the Media School at Bournemouth University.
The Engineer portrays the work of Israel Ticas, the only criminologist in El Salvador who unearths mass graves in search of hundreds of missing humans – many teenagers among them – killed during the ongoing gang conflict. When the two biggest gangs MS-13 and 18 Street declared a truce in 2012, the murder rate fell but the number of disappearances has been rising since.
After the screening, Charles and Passarelli provided the audience with personal background information on the total of three months they spent with Ticas, to get an insight into his day-to-day job. When Jukes asked what effect accompanying the engineer to underground sites and to film fragmented bodies had, Charles remembered:
By Antonia Roupell Between the Lines Follow-Up Events once more succeeded in showcasing a diverse range of films at the Frontline Club on the 25th October. Each of the five documentaries opened a window onto a subject rarely documented from places like North Korea, Yemen and Iraq. Multimedia journalist, Adrian Branco and filmmakers Jason Lee and Tim Travers Hawkins were present for the Q&A with a large audience.
On 23 October the Frontline Club held a panel discussion to mark the ten years since the arrest and imprisonment of Russia’s then-wealthiest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The discussion was chaired by Edward Lucas, international editor of The Economist and featured: Tonia Samsonova, a journalist from the radio station Ekho Moskvy; Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire; and Sir Tony Brenton, former British ambassador to Russia.
The discussion was preceded by an exclusive performance of a selection of Khodorkovsky’s writing, adapted and directed by Noah Birksted-Breen from Sputnik Theatre Company and performed by Jonathan McGuinness.