Award-winning US filmmaker Brent Renaud killed by Russian forces in Ukraine, authorities say

Peabody Award-winning filmmaker fatally shot near Kyiv, police report

Alex Woodward,David Harding
Sunday 13 March 2022 20:21 GMT
Wounded reporter tells how former New York Times filmmaker was shot dead by Russian forces in Irpin
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Brent Renaud, an award-winning US filmmaker and former contributor to The New York Times, was fatally shot by Russian forces in Irpin, close to Kyiv, according to officials in Ukraine.

The Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker, working alongside his brother Craig as the Renaud Brothers, also produced films for HBO, NBC, Discovery, PBS and Vice News, among others.

He was in the region working on a project for TIME on the global refugee crisis, according to a statement from company officials.

On 13 March, Russian forces opened fire on a car with foreign journalists in Irpin, an area that has been hit by intense shelling in recent days, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Two other reporters were also injured, according to Kyiv region police chief Andrey Nebitov. Authorities also shared a photograph of what appeared to be Renaud’s press credentials issued by The New York Times. He was not on assignment with the publication at the time.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death. Brent was a talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years,” a spokesperson for the publication said in a statement to The Independent.

“Though he had contributed to The Times in the past (most recently in 2015), he was not on assignment for any desk at The Times in Ukraine. Early reports that he worked for Times circulated because he was wearing a Times press badge that had been issued for an assignment many years ago,” according to the statement.

Directors Brent Renaud and Craig Renaud pose with their award at the 74th Annual Peabody Awards

A joint statement from TIME editor in chief Edward Felsenthal and TIME Studios president Ian Orefice said they are “devastated” by his death.

“As an award-winning filmmaker and journalist, Brent tackled the toughest stories around the world often alongside his brother Craig Renaud,” they said. “In recent weeks, Brent was in the region working on a TIME Studios project focused on the global refugee crisis. Our hearts are with all of Brent’s loved ones. It is essential that journalists are able to safely cover this ongoing invasion and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

A second US journalist, photographer Juan Arredondo, said in a video interview from an Italian news agency and shared by Ukraine’s parliament that Russian forces near a checkpoint opened fire on a car with foreign journalists inside as they were on the way to film people fleeing Russia’s assault.

Mr Arredondo said Renaud was “shot and left behind” but he was not sure what happened to him at the time of the interview.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said in a statement that Renaud “paid with his life for attempting to expose the insidiousness, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor”.

A Ukrainian police officer told a PBS correspondent to “tell America, tell the world, what they did to a journalist”.

Renaud had reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and across the US and elsewhere, covering drug cartel violence in Mexico, political turmoil in Egypt, and schools and drug use in America. The 2014 series Last Chance High, revealing the violence and emotional struggles inside Chicago schools, won a Peabody Award.

The brothers’ work for The New York Times spanned Central American migration, the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and drug violence in Mexico.

The brothers grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, where they founded the Little Rock Film Festival.

Renaud was also among the Nieman Foundation for Journalism’s 2019 fellows.

He is believed to be the second journalist killed in Ukraine, after camera operator Yevhenii Sakun was killed on 1 March, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of US journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine. This kind of attack is totally unacceptable, and is a violation of international law,” the organisation’s programme director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said in a statement. “Russian forces in Ukraine must stop all violence against journalists and other civilians at once, and whoever killed Renaud should be held to account.”

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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