War Photographer

Christian Frei | 96 minutes | Suissimage | <a href="http://www.war-photographer.com/" target="new">Trailer</a>

If war is hell, is war photography a kind of sympathy for the devil? Can a man who depends on death for his livelihood also be a humanitarian? This Oscar-nominated portrait of one of the world’s most famous war photographers, James Nachtwey, dances around such questions, even as it accepts the American photographer’s view of himself as an antiwar photographer. Nachtwey has risked his life covering the major conflicts of the past two decades, including Rwanda, Bosnia, and El Salvador. He’s also a dedicated mass-market photographer whose commitment to his craft hinges on a faith in photography’s power to move not just the committed activist, but also the casual newsweekly subscriber.

Filmmaker Christian Frei provides only basic biographical details about his subject and declines to speculate on the sources of Nachtwey’s ambition. This sacrifice of context in exchange for you are there! immediacy — a miniature camcorder strapped atop Nachtwey’s Canon in the West Bank provides harrowing footage — is what makes War Photographer at once a frustrating and brilliant documentary.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.