I feel a bit reluctant to write about the role of photography in Roger Spottiswoode’s film, when it’s really about something deeply personal – the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and the unexpected angle I got to see it through Under Fire. First, it was exciting to see a movie about a place I know all too well even if I was constantly distracted by the Mexican accents and urban environment (it was filmed in Oaxaca).
Second, it was a rather crude reminder of my own preconceptions. I have to admit that growing up, I had a very simplistic picture of the American involvement in Latin American military regimes. Perhaps just like the simplistic pictures we get today about current world conflicts. All I knew was that Americans supported the hereditary dictator Somoza and aided his dictatorship financially. Only later when I went there did I learn that the reality was much more complex and that public opinion in the US was something different from the official policy. In fact, which is where the film comes, that tide changed with the murder of ABC reporter Bill Stewart by Somoza’s National Guard, documented by a fellow journalist. Continue reading