Drug trafficking, poverty, gang violence, corruption and ethnic warfare have created some of the most dangerous hot spots on Earth. WITNESS: JUAREZ, WITNESS: LIBYA, WITNESS: RIO and WITNESS: SOUTH SUDAN follows our current generation of photojournalists into these conflict zones in Mexico, Libya, Brazil and South Sudan. In the four-part series, war photographers carry us into the heart of the human drama of the people in the action on the ground. We see what compels the photojournalist and experience why, when everyone else seeks cover, the photojournalist stands and moves closer.
Though Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Olympics in 2016, the city currently remains crippled by a war raging between police and powerful drug gangs. Over 2,000 Brazilian military have taken to the streets in a largest offensive in decades. They are taking on the Red Command and Amigos de Amigos, two powerful gangs, in an attempt to regain control of the city’s hilltop favelas before the world’s eyes focus on Brazil as it hosts the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. The powerful drug gangs have fought back with a series of urban terror attacks on cars, buses and police stations. Several journalists have been murdered. Photographer Eros Hoagland is one of only a few willing to venture into the dangerous favelas like Mangueira, which overlooks the Olympic stadium. Mysteries are revealed: In some areas of “pacification,” Red Command have been warned in advance and have already left for more remote parts. Rio’s murder rate is said to be falling, yet missing persons cases are dramatically on the rise. “Is this ‘social cleansing’?,” Hoagland asks. “Where are the bodies?” As he journeys deeper into the dangerous streets he finds some of the answers – disturbing images of bodies in alleys, buried in wells or burned beyond recognition. Directed by David Frankham; produced by Julie Herrin and Josiah Hooper.
A Blue Light Media/Little Puppet Production. Executive producers are Michael Mann and David Frankham. It features photojournalists Eros Hoagland, Michael Christopher Brown and Veronique de Viguerie. Cinematographer is Jared Moosey and composer is Antonio Pinto. An HBO Documentary Films presentation.