Activist speaks at movie screening

Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert engaged in a Q&A with viewers who attended a documentary screening where he explained his relationship with the documentary’s subject, photojournalist Tim Hetherington.

Performing arts teacher Ted Walch hosted the screening of “Which Way is the Front Line,” which chronicles Hetherington’s career covering wars in Africa and Afghanistan, Oct. 1.

Bouckaert described how he was on Skype with filmmakers in Libya when he learned Hetherington had died and how he arranged to have his body sent to England for burial.

Bouckaert was also the one who told Hetherington’s girlfriend and family about his death. He gave Hetherington’s camera to his mother.

“[I gave her] the camera he’d been carrying through which he saw the world,” Bouckaert said.

Bouckaert also talked about how Hetherington constantly found himself in harm’s way, on the front line, but how he knew that it was one aspect of being a good photojournalist. He cared less about the “bang-bang” of war than about the people affected, Bouckaert said.

Bouckaert also spoke about when he first joined Human Rights Watch and the changes within the organization since then, including ones that make an effort to get information to people as quickly as possible , while still making each report unique and motivating.

“We reinvented the methodology of the Human Rights Watch; we kept the same standard of excellence,” Bouckaert said.

Bouckaert said he wanted to not just depict what was happening but also attempt to fix it as an organization.

“Our job was to save lives and not just to document the killings afterward,” Bouckaert said.

Walch taught Bouckaert at the Branson School in Northern California in 1988, and have remained in close friends since. When Walch heard Bouckaert’s was hosting movie screenings for Human Rights Watch, he convinced him to show it at the upper school.

The film starts with Hetherington’s early life and his first assignment in Liberia. Hetherington would not just highlight the blood and gore of war but also the humane and unreported aspects of war.

The documentary featured a series Hetherington shot about American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. He depicted the untold story of the soldiers as boys, like any other young Americans, and captured them saying quotes like, “It’s not a murder; it’s war. There’s a difference.”

To see the full interview go to

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