Far from Hollywood and its prowling paparazzi, journalists covering strife in the real world encounter dangers that the evening news can only hint at. Sometimes, they don’t come home alive.
In “Dying to Tell the Story,” a TBS docu being screened theatrically in five U.S. cities before its first broadcast Sept. 13, Amy Eldon recounts the journey of her 22-year-old brother, Dan Eldon, a Reuters photographer who, with three other journalists, was killed by a mob in Somalia on July 12, 1993.
The film, filled with searing frontline footage shot in Bosnia, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere, features interviews with journos Martin Bell, Peter Magubane, Christiane Amanpour and Corrine Dufka, who was twice assigned to replace dead colleagues — one of them Dan Eldon.
At the Sept. 2 screening in Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance, Eldon’s mother, Kathy, who is exec producer of “Dying,” said that about 50 journalists die covering wars and other conflicts each year. Quoting Pete Hamill’s book “News Is a Verb,” Eldon said, “They died to bring us the truth.”
The L.A. event, attended by director Kyra Thompson, producer Victoria Waldock and editor Arnold Glassman, was followed the next day by a screening at the Freedom Forum in San Francisco. Other screenings take place Sept. 8 at Boston University; Sept. 9 at the Newseum in Arlington, Va.; and Sept. 10 at the United Nations in New York. The U.N. event will be capped off by a panel discussion with Dan Rather, Bernard Shaw, David Turnley and Reuters cameraman Mohamed Shaffi, the only survivor of the Somalia tragedy. Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin will speak.
A feature film on Dan Eldon’s life, written by Jan Sardi (“Shine”), is in development at Columbia Pictures.