Trail of Bullets

Blood Trail director Richard Parry explains the perils of shooting in a war zone

Robert King
Robert King

A few years ago, a fellow journalist mused that the difference between a war reporter and a war photographer was that writers try to keep their heads down. Photographers want to see the incoming fire.

Blood Trail director Richard Parry probably knows about that. In the Q&A after his documentary's US debut at the SXSW Film Festival on Friday, his fellow war photographer (and the film's subject) Robert King mentioned that Parry once lost a camera when it took a bullet.

With the cameras that didn't get shot, he produced a cinematic kin to war photographer Anthony Loyd's groundbreaking autobiography My War Gone By, I Miss It So. It could also have served as an obituary for either himself or King. Taking pictures doesn't make you bulletproof, and the closing credits name eight reporters, all friends and colleagues, who died in the 15 years since the project began.

King, who described himself as "the victim of Blood Trail, not the subject," explained, "When we met, it was eight minutes and it was for a short news piece." Over the years, as the two crossed paths in some of the world's bloodiest conflicts, Parry got more and more footage of King.

It also meant there's no Year of Living Dangerously-style romanticizing of war zone junkies, which Parry said he tried to avoid. "It's good to make a film about someone you know," he explained. "We became close because of those experiences."

King is a lifer, admitting that he'll cover wars as long as there's wars to cover. Parry described himself as out of the war reporting business. However, once the festival is over, they're both off to Juarez to cover the cartels: Which, ominously with their war reporters instincts, both predicted could get really bad, really soon.

Blood Trail screens again on Monday, March 16 at 12pm at the Alamo Ritz and Wednesday, March 18, at 4:30pm at ACC.

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