Beginning day three of my Sundance 2016 doc profiles: JIM, Brian Oakes’ intimate chronicle of the life and death of photojournalist James Foley.
US Documentary Competition
Sundance Program Description:
In August, 2014, a video of the public execution of American photojournalist James Foley rippled across the globe. Foley wore an orange jumpsuit as he knelt beside an ISIS militant dressed in black. That image challenged the world to deal with a new face of terror. And it tested one American family.
Seen through the lens of filmmaker Brian Oakes, Foley’s close childhood friend, JIM takes us from small-town New England to the adrenaline-fueled front lines of Libya and Syria, where Foley pushed the limits of danger to report on the plight of civilians impacted by war.
On Thanksgiving Day 2012, Jim Foley was kidnapped in Syria and went missing for two years. Thrown into a world of false leads and misinformation, the Foley family was threatened with prosecution by the U.S. government if they paid a ransom. In Oakes’ gut-wrenching film, Foley’s family, friends, and fellow journalists tell Jim’s story, while his fellow hostages reveal the details of captivity with chilling immediacy. Brilliantly constructed with unparalleled access, JIM is a harrowing chronicle of bravery, compassion, and pain at the dawn of World War ISIS.
Director: Brian Oakes
This marks Oakes’ sophomore project as a director following last year’s LIVING WITH LINCOLN. His acclaimed work in motion graphics has appeared in scores of films, including Sundance alums INEQUALITY FOR ALL (2013), BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD (2011), THESE AMAZING SHADOWS (2011), HOT COFFEE (2011), IOUSA (2008), and WORDPLAY (2006).
Producers: Eva Lipman, George Kunhardt, and Teddy Kunhardt; Associate Producer: Chris Chuang
Lipman and Chuang are producers at Oakes’ design firm, with credits as producers on LINCOLN and for visual effects on a range of other titles, from THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT to IF YOU BUILD IT.
Brothers George and Teddy Kunhardt previously produced LINCOLN for Kunhardt Films, and have extensive producing credits for AOL’s MAKERS series, PBS’s FINDING YOUR ROOTS, and other television work for PBS and HBO.
Executive Producer: Peter Kunhardt
The Kunhardts’ father, Peter Kunhardt, is the founder of Kunhardt Films. He has directed several of his company’s documentary productions in addition to serving as executive producer.
Why You Should Watch:
Oakes’ personal connection to Foley elicits intimate, revealing interviews with family members and others who knew the fallen journalist best. Through their reflections, and footage with Foley before his detainment in Syria, the film develops a fuller sense of the man and what drove him to risk his own life in conflict zones, while also conveying how his dangerous work affected his family and friends.
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.
Presently, the film does not have a website, Facebook page, or trailer. Should this change before the festival kicks off, I’ll update that information here.
To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.