First to Fall | Director talk and film screening



Thursday, April 23, 2015
6-8:30pm in ILC 150 (Map)

Sponsored by Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for Border & Global Journalism

Co-sponsors include: American Institute of Maghrib Studies, School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies

About the film...


Official film website:

An intimate tale of friendship and revolution, this coming of age story documents the journey of two young friends, Hamid (26) and Tarek (21), who abandon their peaceful lives as students in Canada to join an unconventional war in their homeland of Libya.
Hamid and Tarek have never fired a gun, but in 2011 they run recklessly toward the war, fueled by their hatred of Muammar Gaddafi and their desire to be part of history. Once they arrive, their paths diverge. Hamid blazes ahead with fearless enthusiasm, and with a camera in hand he is invited to film the front lines by rebel forces, easily fitting in with the boyish camaraderie on the battlefield. Tarek’s journey is more difficult, introspective and unsure, consistently plagued by obstacles. He fights relentlessly against his destiny, ignoring all warnings that suggest his single-minded ambition to reach the frontline may have tragic consequences.
For eight months, director Rachel Beth Anderson documented raw moments of personal and breathtakingly dangerous acts of war and sacrifice as Hamid and Tarek join the rebels taking on Gaddafi’s army. The film captures the chaos and giddiness of revolution, the brutal loss of lives and innocence, and a deeply intimate view charting the young men’s decent into war as they discover who they are and what they are capable of. In Tarek’s words, “The end of the story is different than what I thought.”

About Rachel Anderson...

Working as a journalist and videographer based in Cairo there was no sense of the events about to take place in Egypt. Even up until hours prior to the scheduled protests on January 25, 2011 the activists had unclear expectations. But the moment the protesters broke into Tahrir Square, through the lines of the riot police, everyone realized that the world they had known was about to turn upside down; a revolution had begun. A domino effect hit the region and one-by-one the masses came out against their leaders asking for change and basic human rights. I captured the events from behind my camera as they unfolded in Egypt, and once they ousted their dictator I traveled across the border into the unknown world of Gaddafi's Libya, where the uprising quickly turned into a bloody war. Staying on the ground for the majority of the eight month conflict I had the privilege of living with Libyan civilians and soldiers across the country, truly experiencing firsthand the outrage, sadness, confusion, and raw moments of war. Compelled to continue my work in the region I was smuggled across the Turkish border into Syria with Human Rights Watch workers to document the atrocities being committed by President Assad against his people. Four years have passed since the region exploded with notions of change, and the futures of these countries are still in flux, with populations still fighting for control over their own destinies.

Rachel Beth Anderson, a Sundance award wining cinematographer, has filmed around the world in several conflict zones including Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, and South Sudan, for CNN “Hero’s”, PBS Frontline, Human Rights Watch, and independent feature documentaries First To Fall and E-TEAM.

After participating in a Fulbright-sponsored Journalism program based in Cairo, Rachel graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Journalism school where she filmed and co-produced a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award winning doc Breaking Down Barriers. Rachel officially made the move to Cairo, Egypt in 2010.
During the 2011 Egyptian revolution Rachel worked as a videographer and field producer for PBS Frontline documentaries: Gigi’s Revolution, and The Brothers. Her footage from the uprising is also included in multiple long form documentaries including BBC’s This World, Egypt – Children of the Revolution, PBS’s Before the Spring: After the Fall, independent films Zero-Silence and Uprising, and most recently Frontline’s 2013 follow-up documentary, Egypt in Crisis.
Rachel’s award winning documentary, First To Fall (UA screening on Feb 19), was borne of a 7-month journey spanning the Libyan war. Her directorial debut film was a Gucci/TriBeCa grant recipient (2012) and had its World Premier screening at the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA) in late 2013. Currently in the 2014 festival circuit the film has screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London and New York, screened at the Frontline Club in London and Prauge, in Italy at  Cinemazero and the Biografilm Festivals, and won two jury awards at the investigative journalism festival, FIGRA, in France. This film screened this past fall at the Kickstarter Film Festival in New York, LA, and London, festivals in Edinburgh, Rio de Janeiro, and Beirut, at Hot Springs Film Festival, the Bronx Documentary Center, and featured at the Bayeux-Calvados Award of war correspondents.
Rachel is currently based out of Brooklyn, NY.
This is event is free and open to the public.

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