Last night I previewed a new HBO documentary, Reporter, in which New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof takes viewers on an astonishing journey in his search for social justice in some of the world’s most dangerous places. This is a must-see piece of work, an inside look into how the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist finds the story that will grip his readers and help bring about social change. In the film, we accompany Kristof to the Congo, where he searches for an individual whose wrenching story will bring home the impact of civil war, which has taken the lives of 4 million people. That story is embodied in the life of a 41-year-old woman, Yohanita, who is dying of starvation and disease. She is curled up on the ground, barely able to move her 60-pound frame because of infection and painful, ulcerating sores that leave her crying out in front of the camera. She is part of a community of one million people displaced by the ongoing civil war. We meet members of her village who have returned to find their homes destroyed, their fields pillaged by warring factions, no crops left to feed them.
Kristof also takes viewers to an interview with one of the warlords, General Nkunda, who has been accused of unspeakable war crimes. He is educated, charming, a devout Christian and a Tutsi who calls himself a “liberator” of the people. Since the interview, Nkunda has been arrested, his fate now uncertain.
I previewed the film as part of a fundraiser for the American Jewish World Service, which supports organizations in the Congo that are saving children who have been conscripted as child soldiers into the civil war. It is a film that should be seen by all.