In a society that is more and more concerned with entertainment and advertisements, the documentary War Photographer brings to our attention a reality that has somehow been ‘hidden’ from us precisely because of the feeling of sadness it provokes and the broader perspective upon the world it gives. The documentary shows an impressing amount of work, while being genuine and authentic in the same time. It shows real people, dying of starvation, going through war and post-war tragedies. Still, it has only around 25.000 views, although being nominated for an Emmy Award in 2004, while as music videos, prank channels and vlogs get millions of Youtube views.
The documentary presents the activity of war photographer James Nachtwey, who took it upon himself to show the world the horrors that take place on our planet, some of them which we are unaware of, others which we knew about in an abstract way, but of which we need to see images, in order to realize how real all of this is.
Portrayed as a loner, a brave artist if you look at his work, a modest person, judging by his words, James’ activity pushes the boundaries between art and reality, joining them into collections of real life moments captured for eternity. Thus, making every one of us realize how important a journalist’s work is, to bring realities that are being outshined by sparkly commercials, in people’s attention. In a world of constant and unlimited communication, journalists, as information providers, owe it to the public and to their profession to show the ugliness of the world, the sadness, the misery, death and wars, as they are. Without masks, without sugar-coating situations, artists like James use their talent to express the feelings they experience, the world they see every day, which the rest of the planet should also look at.
In my opinion, nowadays ignorance is easier to adopt than ever. Contrary to what we like to think, that we have unlimited information, the truth is we involuntarily select only the content that makes us feel good. The entertainment, the gossip, the celebrities are all we genuinely care about, while fast forwarding over the less happy parts. Who wants to turn on the TV or open a magazine after a long day at work, only to get a feeling of guilt and remorse? Who wants to put aside their own thoughts, to give up some time or money to try and help someone they don’t even know, located on the other side of the planet? The more we discover of this galaxy, the more concerned we become with our own little universe. The more information invades us, the less attention we pay. Day by day, our belief in ourselves and in our own ability to do something, to make a difference, diminishes, while a spirit of passivity and acceptance takes control.
In a world like this, photographers like James Nachtwey, directors like Christian Frei and journalists like Christiane Amanpour (International Correspondent CNN) do us an immense favor: giving us the chance to find out about those realities from the comfort of our homes, without risk, without travel expenses, so that we can decide for ourselves if and how we want to get involved and help our neighbors in need.
by Georgiana Bigea