January 31, 2017 — Critics and reviewers agree: Jim: The Jim Foley Story is a must-see.
Jim Foley was the journalist who was captured by ISIS and whose eventual beheading became the image that brought home the brutality of the regime just coming to power in the Middle East. His death became a wake-up call to governments and people around the world.
The film, Jim: The James Foley Story, was directed by a family friend who was given great access to the Foley family, and to film footage and information about the young journalist. It enabled the world to understand and know the man, a dedicated journalist who felt a need to inform the world about what is happening throughout the Middle East. Through interviews with people who knew him, Foley’s life overshadows the disturbing images associated with his death.
The film would go on to win an Emmy® Award for “Exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking.”
The Playlist has called Jim: The James Foley Story one of the 20 Best Documentaries of the Year (2016). “One theme that seems to recur across this list [of the year’s best documentaries] is the desire to restore some balance to the memories of people whose tragic, violent deaths have tended to overshadow their lives (see “Team Foxcatcher” above and “The Witness” below). And a more recent example of that phenomenon is the murder of James Foley: If there is a single image that heralded the arrival of the age of ISIS, it may well be that of the American journalist wearing an orange jumpsuit and about to be killed by a figure in a black hood.
But while inescapably political, the strength of Brian Oakes’ documentary on Foley (which picked up the Audience Award for Documentary) is that it is about “a wide scope of global issues through the intimate remembrance of one life.” Highlighting “the dangers of freelance conflict journalism — the limited resources, low pay, competitiveness, and adrenaline addiction…but also expressing the absolute necessity of this work”— ‘Jim’ becomes a portrait of a real person “who struggled with the realities and logistics of everyday ‘normal’ life — saving money, being organized — but who demonstrated an incredible amount of love and grace underneath torture, beatings, and captivity.” The film thus becomes a fittingly defiant testament to a man who was much more than one final, horrific image.”
Cinevue agrees: “A life should be never defined by death. Not least one extinguished as a tool for extremist propaganda. In presenting heartrending documentary Jim: The James Foley Story in such an intimate, personal manner, director Brian Oakes seeks to reclaim the existence of his childhood friend from the unspeakably brutal images that filled screens across the world on 19 August 2014. It attempts to restore humanity to a subject of truly sickening headline news, and succeeds in painting a loving portrait of a man whose unimaginable bravery, unerring dedication to his work and awe- inspiring philanthropy shines through in every frame, along with a dazzling, disarming smile.”
Jim: The James Foley Story is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, or you can stream it immediately on Amazon Video.