SDFF’s 2020 selection, Bellingcat: Truth In A Post-Truth World (Hans Pool, 2019) and some of the journalists affiliated with it have been making the news over the past month. Bellingcat the film is tells the story of the eponymous online investigative collective. Collective leader Eliot Higgins was interviewed on 60 Minutes on July 12 to talk about an investigation he had spearheaded into the downing of flight MH17. By using open-source methods and sources, Higgins instigated and broke the story of what happened to flight Malasia Airlines Flight 17. The flight’s demise was the deadliest shoot-down incident and took the lives of 283 passengers and 15 crew. Higgins investigations showed that the Airliner had been shot down by by Russian forces as it few over banned Ukranian air space. The interview and a follow-up article are available here.
On the heels of the story of this international breakthrough, Bellingcat contributing journalist Robert Evans, who was set to speak on an investigative journalism panel at SDFF 2020 has been interviewed by several national news outlets, like The New York Times for his extensive coverage of the Portland uprisings, which have been ongoing for over 50 days. Though they hadn’t stopped since George Floyd’s murder, the Portland protests had been more-or-less ignored by the mass media until tensions escalated after police responded violently to the crowd of protestors on July 4. Since then, the story has become huge, as President Donald Trump sent in Federal agents and law enforcement regimes to the city to quell protest, against the wishes of local and state officials. As of July 25, this situation remains tense, as federal agents have engaged with protestors (and fellow citizens) using military tactics usually reserved for engagement with foreign combatants. There have also been reports that federal agents have shown up in plain clothes and grabbed individual demonstrators off the street without identifying themselves, the agency they’re with, and/or why they are picking up and detaining protestors. Evans’ coverage of the situation for Bellingcat is available here.
Although we couldn’t get the Bellingcat movie to the big screen, we encourage our audience to go take a look at their amazing investigative work!