“This guy tried to kill me. He had a gun to my head,” Jon said. “We were leaving the country. We got intercepted.”
I was interviewing Jon Alpert. He was trying to smuggle controversial footage out of Iraq.
“I was basically a complete failure up until the moment that I started making films,” Jon said.
He was constantly trying to make his community a better place, but his attempts were always unsuccessful.
“I want to make this country better. And I’m not a good soldier. And I’m not a politician. So I can’t go represent in Congress, but I can be a good reporter,” he said.
He took two passions (camera and country) and combined the two to become creative in the intersection.
His documentaries show aspects of social change that I’ve never seen anywhere else. There’s this undercurrent of a larger problem… an issue or a cause that people are fighting for. I feel like, in talking to Jon, that I want to be fighting for something too. Jon had a core. A direction. And a destination. All in one.
“The camera is a license for me to go up to you and to invade every single part of your life,” he said. “The camera is a license to invade people’s personal space.”
“And I’m doing it because I love my country and that’s how I believe I can be the best patriot.”
He told me about his newest documentary, “Cuba and the Cameraman.” 45 years! It took him 45 years to make this.
It’s his life work.
He went through a thousand hours of footage. Editing took a year. And what resulted (what we finally get to see) is one of the greatest films about the Cuban Revolution. Ever.
And this podcast is the story behind those stories. We hear about the leaders. The criminals. And what was inside their refrigerator.
These are the war stories you don’t hear. This is the filmmaker’s journey.