Realscreen pre-TIFF exclusive: Blood Trail

British filmmaker Richard Parry's doc Blood Trail, which follows the path of war photographer Robert King over 15 years and three wars, will have its world premiere on September 6 at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.
August 25, 2008

Blood Trail is a doc that shadows war photographer Robert King through Bosnia in 1993, Chechnya in 1997 and Iraq last year, and unearths why he chose such a dangerous and draining profession, and how the experience affected him.

Richard Parry, director and coproducer on the film, says getting broadcasters to back it was nearly impossible, but his efforts and labor of love are being rewarded with a world premiere in the Real to Reel program at September’s Toronto International Film Festival. (Blood Trail was coproduced with Vaughan Smith, Parry’s colleague from Frontline News, who now runs the Frontline Club in London.)

Parry met the doc’s subject, King (pictured above), in the Holiday Inn that was butted up against the frontline in Sarajevo in 1993. A hotspot for journalists in Bosnia at the time, Parry recalls a bizarre detail about the place: ‘You could get fairly good food in a city that was otherwise besieged…You could get lobster on the menu.’

Describing his own filming in war zones such as Afghanistan and Haiti during the ’90s, Parry says, ‘I just had this little passion that I always wanted to go to a war, for whatever misguided reasons…I went into it somewhat blind, and with the courage of youth.’ His first trip to a war-ravaged area was in 1992, when he went to the former Yugoslavia. During one especially dicey attempt to reach the frontline, Parry dressed in a Croatian military uniform, hid his camera and drove in a carload of Croatian soldiers through Serbian checkpoints. The good news is he made it to the frontline intact. Such ballsy stunts required Parry to enter a certain mental zone. ‘I’d try not to think, not to imagine what it would be like if a shell would come through the side of the car. The mind can dwell on this and it will just drive you crazy.’

Still, his memories of that time in his life are surprisingly positive. ‘Yugoslavia was a really interesting, engaging place for most of us young journalists to go. We’d tend to have Yugoslav girlfriends, we would get involved in the community…. people were very friendly. It’s not all doom and gloom – far from it, in fact.’ See a clip from this TIFF premiere Here.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.