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E-Team (2014) is an interesting documentary co-directed by Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman and centered on four members of the Emergencies Team, dispatched by Human Rights Watch to investigate human rights abuses and atrocities. The film shows their everyday work, and private lives, in relation to the conflicts of Syria and Libya, while also looking back at the team's past work of documenting and reporting on the Bosnian genocide as well as the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević. Anna Neistat, who grew up in Moscow and is currently senior director for research at Amnesty International (according to her Twitter account), was especially interesting among the team's members for her duty-driven willingness to go into war zones and report on what the authorities there had done to their own people. She seemed compelled to take on the job⁠—fraught with risks and regularly forcing her to leave her young son behind in Paris⁠. She didn't come across as a war junkie but rather as someone with a massive sense of responsibility and faith in her own capacity for making change in a world heavily influenced by thugs like Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad.

I got a sense the work done by the E-Team and Human Rights Watch has become more challenging and dangerous since the Arab Spring, at least compared to Bosnia. They'd be targets in any violent conflict, but Assad and Gaddafi proved themselves hellbent on killing civilians and reporters, and although this isn't much discussed in the documentary, the film does show the indiscriminate killing and bombing of neighborhoods, particularly in Syria, which continues to this day, long after the mainstream media has given up on seriously reporting on the tragedy.

The documentary's only flaw is that it's too short. Running ninety minutes, it provides a basic overview of what the job entails and how the work affects E-Team members' lives back home in Europe. And this is fine, but I didn't know much about the processes and hurdles or the individuals associated with Human Rights Watch, despite reading and hearing reports/summaries from the organization over the years, and so I was ready for more from E-Team, like a multi-part series diving deeper into their lives and work and failures and achievements. That said, it's still a revealing documentary people should watch to get a feel for what it's like to be part of their team.


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