NEW YORK – UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of Greece to the UN, together with the New York Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists held a discussion and screening of Hondros, Director Greg Campbell’s feature length documentary film about his dear friend, the award-winning photographer Chris Hondros, tragically killed in Libya covering the conflict there in 2011. The event marked the 5th International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2 at the United Nations headquarters in New York and included a Q&A session with the film’s executive producer, Riva Marker.
Chris Hondros was one of the best conflict photographers of his generation, having covered practically every major world event during his adult life. Beginning with the war in Kosovo in 1999, Hondros served as witness to more than a decade of strife and conflict before he was killed by shrapnel in Libya in April, 2011. But he was so much more than a highly-respected and award-winning photographer.
In this powerful feature length film, interviews with Hondros himself and his peers highlight the tremendous body of work and this remarkable man of unusual depth and sensitivity, whose passion for his craft continues to influence people around the world. The son of immigrant parents, a Greek father and German mother, Hondros was dedicated to his work and felt a responsibility to answer the tough questions. His optimism and his talent helped inspire and continue to inspire people whose lives he touched through his images, his friendship, and his humanity. Director and childhood friend Greg Campbell leads viewers on a global journey to meet those in Hondros’ most influential photos, and to uncover their little known backstories.
Among the speakers at the event, the Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN, Ambassador Maria Theofili, gave the welcoming remarks. She said, “Please allow me to make this statement on behalf of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay, and my country Greece, members of the Group of Friends for the protection of journalists. On this day, while paying tribute to all those journalists around the world losing their lives and suffering attacks in the exercise of their profession, we should also voice our concern about the increasing number of such attacks, which result in a growing culture of impunity. Further, we should not overlook the fact that female journalists are at greater risk, often facing gender based acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation.
“Regrettably, there is currently a trend in a number of countries to limit the scope of free journalism, by discrediting the media and censoring or even prosecuting journalists. In this regard, we truly believe that the international community as a whole has a duty to safeguard freedom of expression by protecting journalists and creating the necessary conditions for them to carry out their work in full independence. To this effect, governments should establish an adequate legal framework as well as create national safety mechanisms, in line with the relevant UN Plan of Action.
“Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, on this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, let us use this opportunity to raise once again awareness on the grave violations of journalists’ rights, taking into account that free journalism forms an integral part of free societies. Every single attack against journalists has to be investigated; there is no room for impunity! I thank you.”
The poster for the event. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
Ricardo de Guimaras Pinto, Liaison Officer for UNESCO Liaison Office to the UN noted that UNESCO is launching an awareness campaign #TruthNeverDies to spread the work of journalists who were killed and to perpetuate their legacy. These journalists were killed in order to be silenced. It is important therefore to assert that the truth will not die, by publishing stories of these journalists and demanding that justice be done.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that crimes against journalists do not go unpunished. We must see to it that journalists can work in safe conditions which allow a free and pluralistic press to flourish,” Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said in a statement on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also introduced their 2018 Global Impunity Index, which spotlights cases of murdered journalists where their killers are still free. The index is available online: cpj.org.
Permanent Representative of Greece to the UN, Ambassador Maria Theofili, Riva Marker executive producer, and Ricardo de Guimaras Pinto, Liaison Officer for UNESCO Liaison Office to the UN. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
The award-winning documentary, Hondros, opened in theaters in the spring of 2018 and is now available online through iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango Now, and Netflix. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is also an executive producer of the film and Jamie Lee Curtis is co-executive producer.
Also in New York, at the Bronx Documentary Center’s St. Mary’s Annex, 364 East 151st Street, through December 16, a photo exhibition entitled “War and Peace in Liberia” features the works of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, whose images played an important role in bringing the Liberian conflict to an end. The exhibit, free and open to the public, is organized by the Bronx Documentary Center, in collaboration with UN Foundation, UN/DPKO, Getty Images, Magnum Photos and Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC).