Thursday April 17th, 2014

McClatchy Foreign Correspondent and State of the Craft

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 April 2014 — McClatchy Newspapers foreign correspondent Hannah Allam addresses my Foreign Correspondence class. Allam is the foreign affairs correspondent for McClatchy, covering the State Department and international diplomacy from Washington. She was bureau chief in Baghdad from 2003-2006 and was Middle East bureau chief, based in Cairo, from 2006-20012. Her war coverage has won several national awards; she was part of teams that won an Overseas Press Club Hal Boyle Award for Iraq coverage and a 2013 George Polk Award for coverage of the Syrian conflict. She was a 2008 Nieman fellow at Harvard. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1999. My students and I were deeply impressed by her professionalism, her sincerity and her humanity.

(Photo by Zach C. Cohen.)


Wednesday April 16th, 2014

“Through Their Eyes” at Toronto Film Festival

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 April 2014 — My wife, Esther, and I are pleased to announce that our documentary, “Through Their Eyes,” has been nominated to compete in the Documentary Feature category at the Toronto International Film and Video Awards festival. The documentary follows a diverse group of six American University students discovering the forbidden island of Cuba during the twilight years of the Castro government. In search of answers regarding race, religion and revolution, they spend four months criss-crossing the communist country — under an economic blockade by the United States since the administration of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. “Through Their Eyes” reveals not only the secrets of Cuba but, perhaps more importantly, the transformation of six young Americans on their journey of discovery.

Tuesday February 25th, 2014

International Video Journalism Workshop Ends

WASHINGTON, DC, 23 February 2014 — Check out the group photo at the end of our Video Journalism Workshop this past weekend. We had a diverse, international group.

From left is Bruce Jones, Jerry Gardiner from Liberia, Will Hoffinger, Mariana Alvarez Joyal from Venezuela, me, Zar Sarmast from Afghanistan, my wife Esther from Cuba, David Ruck, and Mark Burrell.

Missing is Court Allam, who had to catch an early flight back to Kansas.

What a privilege to work with these people.

(Photo by Laila Rossi)


Sunday February 16th, 2014

Reporting “Lone Survivor” Trailer

WASHINGTON, DC, 16 February 2014 — In the summer of 2005 a four-man team of US Navy SEALs dispatched to a mountainous region of northern Afghanistan in search of a renowned Taliban leader. Surrounded by enemy fighters, the SEALs called for backup. But when 16 Special Forces soldiers arrived on the scene in a Chinook helicopter, the Taliban shot it down, killing all 16 men aboard in what was the largest single loss of American life in the history of that war.

Of the four SEALs on the ground, three were killed in the fighting and only Marcus Luttrell survived. In his book, “Lone Survivor,” Luttrell recounts the events of that fateful day.

The “Lone Survivor” story has been recounted by Luttrell in his best-selling book, on a segment of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” and in countless television and personal appearances. And Mark Wahlberg plays the role of Luttrell in an action-packed Hollywood film nominated for two Oscars.

But only now can you see the actual story as it unfolds in real time through the eyes of the men and women who covered the story in Afghanistan.

In “Reporting ‘Lone Survivor,’” I document on the ground how the international press corps based in Kabul scrambled to follow the days-long drama as the world awaited information about the men’s fate.

To see the trailer for the upcoming film, click HERE.

Tuesday February 11th, 2014

“Through Their Eyes” Takes BEA Documentary Award

WASHINGTON, DC, 11 February 2014 — We’re proud to announce that our film, “Through Their Eyes,” won the Award of Excellence in the Long Form Faculty Documentary Competition at the Broadcast Education Association’s (BEA) Festival of Media Arts. The festival is open to BEA individual faculty and student members. We released “Through Their Eyes,” a documentary about six American University students studying in Cuba, last year. My wife, Esther, and I produced the film while I accompanied the students, who were studying in Cuba during Fall 2011, as part of the AU Abroad program.


Sunday January 26th, 2014

Where Has All the (Our) Money Gone?


KABUL, Afghanistan, 7 January 2014 — This is a brief clip I shot in a refugee camp in Kabul. According to a camp spokeswoman, the camp houses about 1,500 people from across Afghanistan who have fled the war. She said some of the refugees have been here for as long as 12 years. No running water. Open sewers. No electricity. Some of the kids don’t have shoes.

In a May 2012 report, the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimated that if government figures on Afghanistan “for FY2001-FY2013…are totaled for all direct spending on the war, they reach $641.7 billion.”

That’s right, $641.7 billion, with a “B.”

The CSIS report goes on: “This is an incredible amount of money to have spent with so few controls, so few plans, so little auditing, and almost no credible measures of effectiveness.”

Indeed, the spokeswoman at the refugee camp asked what happens to all the money donated by foreign countries, especially the United States. Why are thousands of people living in conditions like the ones in this video?

I didn’t have any answers.

You can watch the clip by clicking HERE.


Saturday January 25th, 2014

Sieze the Power of Video at February Workshop

KABUL, Afghanistan, 5 January 2014 — It is the new language. The new literature. Particularly for the young, it is the way they learn. It’s the way they communicate.

Video. For communication. For news and information. For NGOs and non-profits. For entertainment.

Seize it’s power. Use it. Connect, motivate and earn with it. Join my Video Journalism Workshop February 20-23. Only 11 days left to register. See #documentaries

I made this image (it’s a screen shot from video) during a recent journey to Afghanistan where I worked on a documentary about five Afghan girls competing in an international arbitration in Hong Kong later this year. It’s a good example of an “environmental portrait.”


Wednesday January 22nd, 2014

It’s All About Light: Video Journalism

KABUL, Afghanistan 6 January 2014 — I keep going back to this: It’s all about light. And how light plays on form, and composition, and movement. Light is our primary raw material.

I made this image (it’s a screen shot from video) at a market in Kabul, while working on a documentary about a team of Afghan girls competing in an international arbitration contest later this year. I needed to generate some context for the girls’ background. Where they come from. What conditions they live in. What life is like for them.

Kabul is a rough neighborhood. Power outages are routine. Transportation is problematic. Many girls are restricted by cultural norms. Violence plagues not just Kabul but the entire country. Just a few days after my 10 January departure for Washington, 21 people died in an attack by Taliban fighters on a restaurant frequented by foreigners. The restaurant was a couple of blocks from the guest house where I stayed — and right next door to a convenience store where I regularly purchased bottled water and toiletries. #documentaries

©Bill Gentile



Friday January 10th, 2014

Video Journalism Workshop February 20-23

Learn to Connect, Motivate and Earn With Video at my Video Journalism Workshop in Washington, DC, on February 20-23, 2014.

Seats are limited and registration closes at midnight on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

The tools for connecting instantly, internationally and in the visual language that needs no translation, are available to us all. Join us and learn how to use them. For more information see:


Tuesday January 7th, 2014

Lonely Road In Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan, 5 January 2014 — A bicyclist cuts his way through early-morning traffic and the thick dust that blankets Kabul. I used a telephoto lens to compress elements in the image, and to enhance the appearance of the smog-like substance.