It’s a rare film that catches the attention of top diplomats at the United Nations, but such is the case with Hondros.
“It was a beautiful event,” says Hondros executive producer Riva Marker, who introduced the film to dignitaries and invited guests. “It was a room full of people who understand the importance of journalism. You could feel everybody was moved at the end of it.”
Nine Stories, the production company founded by Marker and Jake Gyllenhaal, produced the film after being approached with the idea by Jamie Lee Curtis, an admirer of Hondros’ work.
“To Jamie this movie, and I agree, is all about the catastrophe of war, what war actually does to people on the ground,” Marker tells Deadline. “The result is that children are orphaned and people are psychologically damaged in ways they can never recover from.”
Stories of war, corruption, and official misconduct would not register with the public without the efforts of journalists like Hondros, an undertaking that carries enormous risk. According to UNESCO, the UN agency whose mandate includes advocating for freedom of the press, more than a thousand journalists were killed in the line of duty between 2006-2017. Many were deliberately targeted to silence their reporting.
“In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished,” UNESCO notes. “Attacks on media professionals are often perpetrated in non-conflict situations by organized crime groups, militia, security personnel, and even local police.”
That sentiment was echoed in a video statement recorded by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. “On this day,” he said, “I pay tribute to journalists who do their jobs every day despite intimidation and threats.”
The UNESCO campaign comes at a time when news outlets in the U.S. face vocal hostility from President Trump, who has repeatedly branded “fake news media” as the “true enemy of the people.” The Hondros documentary was in development well before Trump took office, but Marker believes it’s especially relevant in the current atmosphere.
“That what Chris was doing is being more and more challenged as each day goes by under this presidency is shocking,” Marker comments. She sees journalists like Hondros not as enemies of the people but as pursuers of truth.
“I don’t know how many more people we’re going to find like Chris going into the vocation of photojournalism because it is so dangerous now,” she observes. “There’s no protection and there’s nothing in place to make one feel safe doing it. You have to be so brave, so courageous to do it.”