‘A Private War’ Cinematographer Helped Director Make Transition From Documentaries

Why did veteran cinematographer Robert Richardson, a three-time Oscar winner, agree to work on “A Private War,” the first narrative feature directed by documentarian Matthew Heineman?

It had a lot to do with Heineman’s courage and sense of purpose, says the DP. Heineman was nominated for an Oscar himself for his documentary feature “Cartel Land,” about the Mexican-American border drug wars. “City of Ghosts,” which took on the crisis in Syria, was also well received. “A Private War,” out Nov. 2, is based on the life of the late reporter Marie Colvin, who died in 2012 in Syria while covering the siege of Homs.

Prior to reading the script for “A Private War,” Richardson — who has lensed films ranging from “JFK” to “Inglourious Basterds” to “The Hateful Eight” — watched Heineman’s “Ghosts,” which at the time had not been publicly released.

“It had a profound emotional impact on me,” he says. “Marie was fearless, and I deeply wanted to be a part of showing that life. But perhaps most importantly, I thought that her work in Syria, which is still poignant today, needed to be voiced.”

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