November 1, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Filmmaker Meg Prior Discusses Afghanistan and Realities of War

Group photo of E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Director Dr. Robert Stewart, Meg Prior, and CHI Director Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer

E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Director Dr. Robert Stewart, Meg Prior, and CHI Director Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer

Photographer, videographer and filmmaker Meg Prior recently visited Ohio University and discussed her experiences in Afghanistan and her observations on war in the 21st century through the lens of a civilian photographer.

Her talk was jointly presented by the Contemporary History Institute, the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism, and the CHI-administered and National Endowment for the Humanities-funded program “Coming Home from War.”

Prior produced and directed Outside the Wire, a 2015 documentary film about the war in Afghanistan based on her multiple trips into the war zone. She discussed how the project began as a way to understand better the realities faced by combat photographers in the Vietnam War. It evolved quickly into a film that captures the substance of contemporary military operations and the execution of policy in Afghanistan, an attempt to document history in the making through human stories of both soldiers and civilians.

In the forward-deployed environment, Prior has embedded with U.S. Army Infantry, Combat Aviation, and Special Forces units to document operations conducted by International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF). Following her 2015 film, Prior returned to the combat zone to continue documenting the war effort and the American presence there, much decreased since her first visit. Since 2010, she has traveled to Afghanistan seven times (by now she has spent about two years there), accompanied nearly 450 combat missions, filmed more than 2,000 hours of footage, and compiled more than 100,000 still images.

Between screening film clips, Prior explained to the audience how she has sought to illuminate a complex counterinsurgency mission in a country ravaged by years of relentless conflict. Rather than political commentary or war reporting, her work reveals the visceral realities of what life looked like on actual missions. She learned of the pride and frustration felt by American and ISAF soldiers throughout their deployments as well as the ambitions of the Afghan people surrounded by the turmoil of war.

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