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Death of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Resonates at ‘A Private War’ Premiere

The death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi left its mark on attendees at the “A Private War” premiere, especially star Rosamund Pike, who portrays a reporter in the film.

“This is the price people pay for delivering truth,” Pike told Variety at Wednesday’s premiere held in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. “It’s appalling what happened to Jamal. It’s deeply disturbing.”

In “A Private War,” Pike plays renowned war journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria while reporting on the war. The movie follows Marie’s journalistic career, including the loss of her eye in Sri Lanka and her ultimate death from an explosive device in Syria. Director Matthew Heineman says “A Private War” is an effort to honor the importance of her work and the work of other journalists like her.

The film also marks Heineman’s first foray into the world of narrative filmmaking, although his past works provided him with a strong foundation for this project’s narrative. In fact, it was his past documentaries that inspired him to make a film about Marie in the first place.

While working on his documentary “Cartel Land,” a look at the ongoing drug problems along the U.S.-Mexican border, Heineman said he came to understand the draw of telling important stories as he was being shot at or visiting meth labs, even if it meant working in a dangerous environment.

“Journalism is the bedrock of a free and democratic society,” Heineman said. “For me, the film is not just an homage to Marie, but an homage to journalists and people like Marie who are out there fighting for the truth and shedding light on dark corners of the world.”

Pike also recognized the importance of journalism in today’s political landscape and said she tried to embody every aspect of Marie, down to the eye patch the reporter became so well-known for wearing. Pike said she would often wander with eye patch on throughout Jordan where the movie was filmed so that she could better understand the vulnerability that Marie must have felt. While walking through the streets, Pike learned to navigate traffic with one eye while grappling with a completely new understanding of depth perception.

Writer Arash Amel expressed a similar sentiment in his approach to the film. After reading a piece written about Marie in Vanity Fair, he conducted interviews with her family members to learn more and came to understand a little bit of what it means to be a reporter, he said. However, he was also quick to criticize the current administration’s approach to the media, especially in how it engages with with journalists themselves.

“It’s something that is going to get worse as long as we keep tolerating it,” Amel said. “As long as we allow our president in the United States to be vilifying journalists in the way that he’s doing, it is going to be getting worse.”

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