Staring with horror at a spot where American filmmaker Brent Renaud was shot to death near the Ukrainian town of Irpin, a Ukrainian police officer told a nearby The New York Times reporter, “Tell America, tell the world what they did to a journalist.”
On March 13, Russian troops opened fire at a news group that was filming civilians escaping an attack from the Russian military. Renaud, was shot in the neck. He never recovered.
He would be remembered for a career of documenting people who grappled for a better life – and that included New Orleans.
In 2016, Renaud attended the New Orleans Film Festival where he was given both a Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary in recognition of his compelling production called “SHELTER.”
Co-directed with Renaud’s brother, Craig, the documentary explored the local Covenant House, which defines it role as “serving young people overcoming homelessness and trafficking.” It claims to serve more than 900 “youth and children” ages 22 and under.
Renaud’s documentary elevated the subjects to more than just numbers. Through the skilled hands of a documentarian, we can see the passion, hurt, hope and even humor of the subjects. Especially impressive were the Covenant House staff members who deal with troubled youth every day with grace and humanity.
In a later project for The New York Times, the brothers documented the saga of Latin American young people finding refuge at Covenant House. The brothers were preparing to do another report about the Latin American migration.
Ukraine changed those plans – unfortunately, forever.
According to the film festival, to date, “SHELTER” has received nearly 5 million views on YouTube alone.
We urge you to be in that number. There is no greater tribute to fallen artists than to experience their work.
Take the time (One hour and 21 minutes). It is worth it. And, to honor the Ukrainian police officer’s advice, spread the word not only about a fallen journalist, but also the other innocents of war.
Brent Reynaud’s funeral was held this past Saturday, March 26, from Pulaskini Heights Methodist Church in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
A fellow documentary journalist, Jon Alpert, eulogized that Renaud was a living example of the prophet Micah’s Bible verse to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly.”
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