Turning Points

So I’ve had a pretty good life, so far. Eleven years as a reporter and producer with the BBC, and now 23 (!) with various parts of the UN. I’ve worked for UNICEF, OCHA (humanitarian affairs), and the main UN – mostly for its video department.

I’ve made short documentaries in Azerbaijan, Somaliland, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, Algeria, Russia, Sri Lanka, Germany, Norway, the USA, the Central African Republic, Saudi Arabia, Namibia, South Africa and Kenya, and maybe some places I’ve forgotten. The stories have been – variously – trying to overcome conflict through reconciliation, surviving terrorism, migration, disability, biodiversity, peacekeeping, war, peace, promoting human rights at great personal risk, nomadic life during droughts, and so on. Please see some links above and here.

I’m currently hoping to do a piece on genocide denial in Bosnia, and I’m working with the distinguished Iranian animator Majid Adin on a short animation about climate migration.

Most hairy moments: surviving terrorist truck-bomb attack on the UN’s HQ in Iraq – 22 were killed, 150 wounded. Being in the middle of a small riot in Somaliland when the crowd reacted to rumours that we were filming pornography, and then later refusing to go with a bunch of armed men to the police station, on same suspicions.

My other main interest is fiction – currently have a novel about Isaac Newton with an agent, have completed a novel on a fictitious rivalry between Alan Turing and Werner Heisenberg, and am planning one set during the WW1, to be called “The Propagandist”.

In my blog, I comment on anything from free will, to writers, to politics, to accounts of some of my trips – ie interviewing a guy who made bombs for Al Qaeda, who met Bin Laden and didn’t think much of him, and is now leading a more or less normal life in Saudi Arabia (!). So I’ve had the privilege of meeting many interesting people.

My conclusions? That I’m incredibly lucky in many ways, but in particular to have grown up in a country at peace, with democracy, an independent judiciary, and the ability to say rude things about any particular Prime Minister without being thrown into jail, tortured or killed. Yes, imperfect though it is, those conditions still apply – at least at the moment – in the UK. So I’m more appreciative of these fundamentals.

You can search through my blog here. And more films here.

2 responses to “Turning Points”

  1. Dear Francis ,
    I found your contact on Linkedin and I sent you a message. I suppose that you are busy so I decided to send you a message on your blog. I do not want to disturb you.
    I’m your ex-student from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, BBC School, Radio Department, 1997. I hope you remember me, since it was long ago. My name is Damir Kaletovic and my final exam was radio report “Gravedigers” .. Together with you (as your guest) and some of my coleagues we were on Adriatic Sea and it was something unforgetable for me. After that you sent me basic info about Stanford Univers. U.S., but in that moment it was mission imposible for me. After the BBC School and my great experience with a professional like you, and your support that you gave each of us, I’ve continued with my journalist work. I was a journalist, editor and chief of NEWS program, executive producer on Public, later director of online magazine … Meanwhile, I have worked for many International TV Station and Foreign Productions on movies with terrorist topic, migration, war crimes … Last two years I’m in USA, and I’m working for consulting firm here: precisely, I cover East Europe, Middle East, etc…
    I am so proud that I recently been a guest professor on Michigan State Universe. in the class of Prof. Eric Freedman, winner of Pulitzer, 1994. I saw your terrible experience with terrorist attack in Iraq: fortunately it was happy ending of a terrible attack.

    Sincerely ,
    Damir Kaletovic

    • I’m sorry for the awkwardly worded sentence at the end of my message: ” fortunately it was happy ending of a terrible attack.” ( I thought happy end for you, RIP for other 22 person)

      Best, DK

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