A Documentary Film by Brian Oakes (A close childhood friend of Jim)
Featuring the Original song: "The Empty Chair" Music & Lyrics by J. Ralph & STING
Thanksgiving Day 2012, American conflict journalist James "Jim" Foley was kidnapped in Syria. By whom, no one knew. This was Jim's second experience being captured. In 2011, he was detained by Colonel Gadaffi's Libyan regime. Held forty-four days and then released.
The Syria kidnapping was different. Prior to his kidnapping on Thanksgiving Day 2012, Jim traveled in and out of Syria as a freelance photojournalist since January of that year. He was home with family in New Hampshire during the month of October for his birthday. A week before he was kidnapped was the last time his family heard his voice.
Jim was publicly executed by ISIS on August 19, 2014, in the Raqqa region of Syria. The infamous video shown around the world was ISIS showing the world evil on steroids. Sinister minded power, control and inhumane brutality. For what measure we ask?
Filmmaker Brian Oakes, a close childhood friend of Jim Foley, honors Jim's life with his documentary JIM: The James Foley Story. Oakes wanted the world to know that the kidnappers took the life of an inspirational human being. One whose legacy will live long and continue to impact the world for good. ISIS took his life for their selfish ambition guided by a skewed ideology. To rid the world of a humanitarian who fought for the underdog, the poor, and the weak. Jim's fight for freedom and justice will never be in vain because of the lives he touched and his legacy that lives on and keeps giving.
While at Marquette University, Jim served four years with Teach for America, teaching in the inner city in Phoenix, Arizona. Later while completing an MFA program in writing at Amherst University, he taught unwed mothers to help them achieve their GED. And, English to inmates at the Cook County jail. Jim was a man with a heart of compassion. He used his skills to be of value to society.
Jim's passion for writing was the avenue he needed as a conflict journalist to reach out to the poor, the disadvantaged and those suffering amid conflict. His job took him to the front lines of conflict but not as a traditional journalist. Yes, he reported on and filed many frontline stories for his outlets. Jim was a relationship builder. He connected with the people. He lived among the locals everywhere he went. He was loved and received by many who were not his own.
Who better to tell Jim's story than a true forever friend. A comrade. A pal. Brian Oakes. Oakes takes the opportunity to attempt to erase the last visual the world has of Jim's public death. He takes his film audience on a journey that honors Jim's incredible integrity and lover of people. Oakes interviews family, friends and fellow journalists who share intimately the impact Jim left on their lives. Moving were the descriptions by former hostages sharing chilling details of their captivity. An untold story of courage and perseverance. Oakes includes footage Foley shot himself, animated diagrams, and "carefully rendered recreations" of his daily life in captivity. Striking are the recollections of his nineteen fellow captives who could not express enough how thankful they were to have known Jim. His behavior as a comrade will never be forgotten. His His example of bravery, valor and compassion not only changed their lives but each, if they lived, would strive to be like him.
The documentary notes: "The reason to tell Jim's story is two-fold. If one remains silent it helps two types of people. 1) The Government because they don't have to do something quickly, 2) The Captors so they are empowered to do anything they want."
The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, set-up by his family, is one way to keep his legacy alive. The family says, "Jim envisioned a world that respects the dignity and life of each person, regardless of socioeconomic status, cultural background or nationality." They add, "His life demonstrated uncompromising commitment to the freedom of the press and to advocacy for basic human rights." Continuing, "Jim is known for his caring and joyful spirit, commitment, and bold idealism in an often cynical world." Jim was driven by a deep compassion for those without a voice.
The Foundation's main goals are three-fold: To be an advocate for the release of American hostages kidnapped abroad by partnering with the USG and American media and to establish a resource center for American hostage families; To support press freedom and the rights of freelance journalists; and, to promote educations opportunities for disadvantage youth. For more information, go to: http://www.jamesfoleyfoundation.org.