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A PRIVATE WAR

Director's Statement
We seem to be living in a post-truth era, where facts are often traded for blatant falsehoods, as dictators, terrorists, and politicians alike utilize propaganda for personal gain. The devastating result is that people often don't know who or what to believe. Facts seem to be malleable. Journalism is under attack and becoming increasingly polarized with fabricated "news" masquerading as real reporting. Deeply concerned by the threats this poses to society, I became inspired to make A Private War about legendary war correspondent Marie Colvin. One of the most-celebrated journalists of our time, Colvin was an utterly fearless and rebellious spirit, prepared to take enormous risks to get a story. She was steely under fire, but what truly set her apart, more than anything else, was her deep desire to bear witness, to show the true human suffering caused by war. She wanted the world to care about unspeakable atrocities - that are so often kept at arm's length - as much as she did. But, in doing so, she was deeply affected by the horrors that she documented, and her personal life slowly began to spiral out of control. Some say war reporters become addicted to war - she was no exception. It was a drug that she couldn't escape. War, paradoxically, was often her sanctuary.

A Private War is my first narrative film. When approaching Marie's story, I immediately empathized with her desire to put a human face to conflicts around the world. It's been the through line of my career as a documentary filmmaker. It's what drove me in Cartel Land, following a group of vigilantes who rose up to fight against the Mexican drug cartels, and in City of Ghosts, giving voice to citizen-journalists documenting the horrors that ISIS was committing in their home towns in Syria. Like Marie, I have felt that same bizarre thrill that conflict reporting brings and also felt the lingering dark thoughts that are an unavoidable consequence of it.

For me, A Private War is a love letter to journalism and an homage to Marie, who risked her life time and time again fighting to tell hard truths. It was deeply important for me to try and also capture Marie's personal struggle and to examine the demons that plagued her mind. I didn't want to approach the film as a biopic, but instead, an exploration of the paradoxical swirl of addictions that made Marie brilliant, but also increasingly tortured. She often struggled with the very thing that drove her - Will the world care when her words finally reach them? - Matthew Heineman

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