Monday February 2nd, 2015

WEDNESDAY 6:30 pm: Filmmaking and the Fog of War

WASHINGTON, DC, 2 February 2015 — Please join us this Wednesday evening for the screening of “No Fire Zone,” about human rights abuses during the 2009 offensive by the Sri Lankan military against the Tamil population. UK filmmaker Callum Macrae will share the innovative ways he garnered and continues to use footage to help pave the way to justice for thousands of civilians killed, wounded and missing during the final days of the Sri Lankan war.

Joining us for a panel discussion after the screening will be Carolyn Gallaher, Associate Professor at the School of International Service (SIS), and Juan E. Méndez, a Professor of Human Rights Law In Residence at the Washington College of Law (WCL).

Best regards,

Bill Gentile

Saturday January 24th, 2015

Turn Your Film Into a Campaign at American University

WASHINGTON, DC, 24 January 2015 — What to do with your film once it’s finished?

In conjunction with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, American University’s School of Communication is hosting award-winning British filmmaker Callum Macrae for a screening of his film, “No Fire Zone.” After the screening, Macrae will discuss how he’s turned the film into a campaign to create awareness about some of the worst human rights violations of our time.

(AU recently became a member of the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium. See

Macrae’s film examines the Sri Lankan civil war and the government’s final assault against Tamil Tigers. His investigation into atrocities against civilians during this assault, and his ability to weave what he uncovered into the film, resonates with students, faculty and filmmakers across a wide spectrum of interests. Besides the film’s subject matter, Macrae’s effort to raise awareness of those atrocities addresses the debate surrounding international relations, traditional journalism vs. “advocacy” or “campaigning” journalism, and other compelling points of discussion.

See for Callum’s Pulitzer Center-supported project page for additional details.

On the evening of Wednesday 4 February, Macrae is scheduled to show his film in the SOC’s Forman Theater and to participate in a panel discussion. For specifics on the event, see

Please join us for light food and refreshments before the event, which is free and open to the public

For questions, contact me at

Best regards,

Bill Gentile



Saturday January 3rd, 2015

“No Fire Zone” Screening/Discussion at American University

WASHINGTON, DC, 3 January 2015 — Award-winning documentary filmmaker Callum Macrae is on hand Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at American University for the screening of “No Fire Zone,” which tells the story of the final 138 days of the 26-year Sri Lanka civil war and sheds light on the government’s brutal military offensive that saw between 40,000 and 70,000 civilians die.

The screening and discussion are part of the launch of the Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium partnership with American University.

“No Fire Zone” documents war crimes, summary execution, torture and sexual violence with direct evidence recorded by both victims and perpetrators on mobile phones and small cameras.

The February 4 event should be a fascinating intersection of documentary filmmaking, human rights activism and international law. It’s just another way of Raising Our Voice With Video. This is what I teach at American University, in my LIVE Video Workshops (see as well as the ONLINE Video Workshops (See

This February 4 event is open to the general public. For details, click HERE. Please feel free to contact me with questions at

Image by Callum Macrae. Sri Lanka, 2014.

Monday December 22nd, 2014

Raising Our Voice With the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

WASHINGTON, DC, 22 December 2014 — American University now is a member of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s Campus Consortium. As part of Campus Consortium Membership, AU and the Pulitzer Center will select two students for international reporting projects of their choice involving an underreported systemic issue. Each student fellow will be awarded $2,500.00 to help pay for the reporting project. See the attached article for details.

This relationship is especially helpful for students enrolled in my Foreign Correspondence class, which is why I’m so excited and proud to have helped engineer it. The fellowships are open to print journalists, photojournalists, documentary filmmakers, students working for non-profits or non-governmental organizations, etc.

For details, click HERE.


Monday November 10th, 2014

Talking With the Amazon at American University

WASHINGTON, DC, 7 November 2014 — Professor Tod Swanson of Arizona State University addresses participants of a workshop organized by the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University. The workshop was titled, “Religion and Democratic Contestation in Latin America: Rights and Justice Claims around the Environment and Gender/Sexuality.”

Dr. Swanson spoke to the group about how his work on Amazonian religion seeks to understand how heightened empathy with plant and animal species is believed to mediate emotional relations to family and community.

I hope to work again with the CLALS on the current round of research. My first collaboration with the Center included a trip to Guatemala where I produced three videos on God and gangs in that Central American nation. You can see them:


(Photo by Bill Gentile.)




Thursday October 30th, 2014

Veteran Backpack Journalist Visits the New

WASHINGTON, DC, 29 October 2014 — Former student Bill Delano took time from his busy freelance schedule to Skype with students in my Backpack Documentary class — 10 years after he, himself, was a member of the same class. Delano has gone on to build an extraordinarily successful career for himself, not only on a professional level but also on a personal level. After his visit, students used these words to describe him: dedicated, search, unique, genuine, captivating, passionate, thoughtful, imaginative. The list goes on.

Take a look at Delano’s production reel and see why my students were so impressed. Click HERE to see it.
(Photo by Bill Gentile.)

Wednesday October 15th, 2014

Decade of Docs in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC, 14 October 2014 — I showed the progression of my work from black and white still photos to high definition documentaries at a function at American University’s School of Communication (SOC). My presentation was part of the panel discussion, “A Decade of Documentary Filmmaking in DC.”

The event was presented by Docs In Progress and Our City Film Festival in collaboration with Women in Film and Video-DC, and the SOC.

The discussion was moderated by Sam Meddis, adjunct professor at American University and George Mason University. In addition to myself, panelists included Erica Ginsberg, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Docs in Progress; Kiley Kraskouskas, Co-Founder and President of Thinking Forward Media; and Jeff Krulik, documentary filmmaker in the DC area since the mid-1980s.

(Photo by Esther Gentile.)


Tuesday October 14th, 2014

Final Steps for “To Catch a Dream”

WASHINGTON, DC, 12 October 2014 — Ella Patel (center) reviews narration she is recording for our upcoming documentary, “To Catch a Dream.” The film follows four Afghan girls as they journey from their war-torn home country to Hong Kong, where they compete in an international competition of commercial law.

From the far left are Audio Tech Manny Cooper, the film’s Executive Producer Laila Rossi, Narrator Ella Patel, and Editor Esther Gentile.

We taped the narration at American University’s Kreeger Building, a state-of-the-art facility.

(Photo by Bill Gentile.)


Tuesday October 7th, 2014

“Through Their Eyes” Screens at Catholic University

WASHINGTON, DC, 29 September 2014 — Students, faculty and administrators at Catholic University in our nation’s capital screened our documentary, “Through Their Eyes,” about six AU Abroad students in Cuba during Fall Semester 2011. We were invited to show the film to students interested in studying abroad. After the screening, I made the point about how unique our time in Cuba was, especially in relation to other abroad excursions.

This film was a long-term project, with my wife, Esther Gentile, editing the piece over a stretch of many months. Just as importantly, it was Esther who pushed me not to drop the project, in the face of a busy schedule in Cuba and the pressures of teaching my “Photojournalism and Social Documentary” class, conducting numerous Video Workshops on the island and a executing a substantial amount of freelance work.
(Photo by Bill Gentile)

Friday August 29th, 2014

From “Born From Blood:” How to Pan

KIGALI, Rwanda, 26 July 2014 — I traveled really light on this trip to Rwanda, carrying only my iPhone and no other gear. No tripod. So it was nice to know how to make a fairly steady pan when I saw the opportunity.

I visited a community project in the Rwandan capital, shooting my central character as she showed me around a city that I hadn’t visited since 1996. And a pan shot of the work, the people and the location, seemed appropriate.

So to make a pan with no tripod I suggest: Find something on which to stabilize yourself. A wall. A pole. A car bumper. Anything that will help keep you and the camera stable. Take position at the point where you want to END the pan. Then twist your body to where you want to BEGIN the pan. In this case, I twisted my body to the right. Hit the “Record” button and allow your body to relax and just flow from right to left. As your muscles relax, your body will move smoothly to the end point of the pan.

Pushing your way INTO the pan is counter-productive, in that your muscles are straining (as opposed to relaxing) and this results in unsteadiness. Check out this shot to see what I mean. Click HERE.

These are some of the lessons that I’ve picked up during nearly 40 years in the field, and that I teach both at American University and in my Video Workshops. For more information see

For my ONLINE course, see