We all see the pictures in the news, or on websites – the photos of war. The harrowing images of death and disaster. But does anyone ever take the time to consider the person behind the lens. Who are they? What is their story? And what impact do the events they are covering have on them. In the case of A Good Day to Die, Hoka Hey, that person behind the camera is British photojournalist Jason Howe.
The documentary throws the viewer right in at the deep end, when Jason is witness to a British soldier – Stephen Bainbridge – getting wounded during the course of serving his country. Howe, obviously captures the images and is aiming to get them published. This is the main narrative of the film, but it is not that simple.
It would be all too easy to say this is a film about war, but there is more to it than that. There is personal struggle, self learning and – albeit briefly – a time to reflect.
Writer/director Harold Monfils met Howe in 2010 when he became fascinated by his work and in the glimpses you have throughout the film it is clear to see why. But Howe, is not just a point a shoot photographer. He wants to show the bigger picture. Which brings us back to Bainbridge. After seemingly having been given the okay to tell the brave soldiers story Howe encounters roadblocks and for a while is blacklisted by the MOD, which leads him in a bit of a downward spiral.
Throughout the film the viewer hears from Howe’s peers and how the idea of becoming a combat photographer is like an addiction, and this becomes so very apparent with Howe. A love interest in Marilyn in Colombia keeps pulling him back to the conflict there, and after being overwhelmed by the “paparazzi of the dead” in Lebanon, he conjures up a new route he can get himself into the thick of the action.
At it’s heart A Good Day to Die, Hoka Hey is a tale of war. But dig a bit further below the surface and it is a tale of love, compassion, bravery self realisation and passion. It really gives a new perspective of how involved those who are behind the lens really are, and how much they are putting themselves at risk, just so people can know the story of the brave men and women fighting to defend this country.
Dir: Harold Monfils
Scr: Harold Monfils
Cast: Jason Howe, Hector Emanuel, Eros Hoagland and Catherine Philp
Prd: Sastry Karra, Remco Monfils and Harold Monfils
Run time: 87 mins
A Good Day to Die, Hoka Hey is in cinemas on June 16