Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two Master Storytellers Succumb to Leukemia

Writer/Filmmakers Mario O'Hara and Nora Ephron

Two of the writer/directors I greatly admired passed away due complications brought about by Leukemia last Tuesday (June 26); just a couple of hours from one another, half a world apart.  Award-winning Filipino Filmmaker (writer, director, producer) Mario O'Hara was admitted to a Manila hospital last June 15 for leukemia treatment (he refused blood transfusion, but underwent chemotheraphy), but died eleven days later at the age of 68.  Popular American Journalist/Filmmaker Nora Ephron died several hours after in a hospital in New York, of pneumonia from complications brought about by acute myeloid leukemia -- a condition she has been suffering from for a couple of years.  She was 71.

I join the thousands of fans and cinephiles the world over, in mourning the loss of these two talented artists.  Though they may have departed in body, their spirits live on in their art (body of work), and will continue to be a precious legacy for all of us to enjoy and learn from.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nick Ut's "Napalm Girl"

The Pulitzer Prize winning photograph dubbed "Napalm Girl," turned 40 this month.  When it was first published in June 8, 1972, 21 year-old Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong Ut (professionally know as Nick Ut) had no clue that his photo would one day become one of the most famous images of the 20th century, and how it will have a lasting impact on his life.

Nick Ut, then and now

Nick Ut became a photojournalist at the young age of 16, just after his brother Huynh Thanh My, an Associated Press photographer, was killed on assignment.  He was mentored by the legendary photojournalist Horst Faas (who recently passed away).

Nick was with some South Vietnamese troops on patrol near Trang Bang, when he witnessed the aerial bombing of a civilian village.  A South Vietnamese Skyraider plane bombing suspected Viet Cong hiding places, accidentally dropped its flaming napalm on South Vietnamese troops and civilians.  Surprised by the attack, he immediately trained his camera on the burning village.   Soon after, he heard screams from the villagers, among them children, running away from the devastation.

Another shot by Nick of the same scene

Among the panic-stricken children were Kim Phuc, her two brothers and her cousins.  Nine year-old Kim Phuc ran naked after discarding her burnt clothes wailing, "Too hot! Too Hot!"  Blobs of  napalm had incinerated her clothes and scorched her skin like jellied lava.  In her fear and confusion, her only thought was how ugly she's become and how she will never be the same again.  Screaming in panic, she ran out from the burning village into the main road, oblivious to everything else around her.