Last Thursday, I went to Pepperdine University with my dear friends Melanie, Richie and DJ for the screening of a documentary called “Dying to Tell the Story.” The film tells the extraordinary story of the life and death of my hero – artist, activist and Reuters photographer Dan Eldon – and introduces the world and motivation of photojournalists like Dan who risk their lives in order to get coverage in war-torn nations.
At age 22, Dan was the youngest photographer on the Reuters staff who was just beginning to realize his potential as a war photojournalist. In the summer of 1993, Dan was on assignment in Somalia when U.N. troops bombed a command post within which they thought contained warlord Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid. The troops were mistaken, and as a result, hundreds of innocent citizens were wounded and killed. The atrocity sparked an uprising, and when Dan and 5 of his colleagues arrived to cover the scene, the raging mob turned on them and the journalists were unable to escape. All but one were stoned to death.
The film is narrated by Dan’s sister, a then-23-year-old Amy Eldon, as she undergoes a personal journey to find peace and meaning in her older brother’s violent death.
Amy interviews news correspondents, cameramen, journalists and photographers who have covered numerous wars, as well as some who have worked with Dan. They discuss the life-threatening risks photographers and journalists take to bring important stories home. These brave journalists have much to say about war, death, famine and other unspeakable monstrosities they’ve seen and the toll these things have taken on their psyche and morals.
Journalists interviewed include Christiane Amanpour, Corrine Difka, Jacqueline Arzt Larma, Peter Magubane, Carlos Mavroleon and renowned BBC correspondent Martin Bell, who had covered 11 wars. Amy also speaks with the sole surviving witness to Dan’s death, Reuters cameraman Muhammad Shaffi, as he takes her to the site of that fateful day in Mogadishu.
Although it was filmed in 1997, this documentary is unfortunately still relevant to today’s events, as journalists were and are still being attacked while covering protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. It is because of media coverage, news correspondence, citizen journalism and the power of global acknowledgment that we are able to witness unfair and inhumane oppression and be moved to make positive social change by thoughtful discussion and take action by sending in aid and support. Reporters risk life and limb to perform this public service. Without these courageous and diligent people, horrifying injustices around the globe will continue, unheard and unseen.
[After the above photos, taken by Dan Eldon, were published in TIME Magazine, humanitarian aid was sent into Somalia almost immediately.]
“Dying to Tell the Story” is moving, powerful, beautiful, inspiring and important. Every compassionate human being needs to see this film.
A touching and thought-provoking discussion with Amy Eldon Turteltaub and executive producer Kathy Eldon followed the screening.
My friends and I cannot stop talking about how inspired and empowered we are to use our talents and passions to become creative activists and ignite positive change in the world around us. I encourage you to please experience this poignant and influential film for yourself.
To watch in parts on YouTube –
To order a copy from Creative Visions Foundation –
For more information about the Creative Visions Foundation, an organization that supports creative activists around the world founded by Kathy Eldon in memory of her son Dan Eldon, visit creativevisions.org
“Dying to Tell the Story”
Directed by Kyra Thompson
Hosted by Amy Eldon Turteltaub