American journalist and an acclaimed filmmaker Brent Renaud has been reportedly been shot dead on Sunday (March 13) by Russian forces in the town of Irpin, outside Kyiv. The 50-year-old award winning journalist, who is known for travelling to some of the darkest and most dangerous corners of the world for documentaries, was working on a documentary about the global refugee crisis.
According to Associated Press, Renaud was gathering material for a report about refugees when his vehicle was hit at a checkpoint in Irpin, just outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said the area has sustained intense shelling by Russian forces in recent days. The details were not made immediately clear by Ukrainian authorities, but American journalist Juan Arredondo said the two were traveling towards the Irpin checkpoint when they were both shot.
“We crossed the first bridge in Irpin, we were going to film other refugees leaving, and we got into a car, somebody offered to take us to the other bridge, we crossed the checkpoint, and they started shooting at us,” Arredondo said in a video interview. Irpin mayor Oleksandr Markushyn later said that journalists would be denied entry to the city amid Russian attacks.
The U.S. State Department condemned attacks on news professionals and others documenting the conflict. “We are horrified that journalists and filmmakers — noncombatants — have been killed and injured in Ukraine by Kremlin forces,” department’s spokesperson Ned Price wrote in a tweet. “We extend condolences to all those affected by this horrific violence. This is yet another gruesome example of the Kremlin’s indiscriminate actions.”
In a statement obtained by Entertainment Weekly, producing partners Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta of Sugar23 remembered Renaud for his commitment to telling toughest stories around the globe and traveling to dangerous corners to research his subjects. “We are saddened to learn of the loss of award-winning filmmaker and US journalist Brent Renaud. Brent was in the region working on a documentary with Sugar23, TIME Studios, and Day Zero Productions, focused on the global refugee crisis,” they said.
“Brent dedicated his life to seeking the truth and sharing humanistic portraits and narratives from those experiences in some of the most dangerous hot spots in the world. Our deepest sympathy is extended to all of Brent’s loved ones.”
Renaud was one of the most respected independent producers of his era, said Christof Putzel, a filmmaker and close friend who had received a text from Renaud just three days before his death. Renaud and Putzel won a 2013 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award for “Arming the Mexican Cartels,” a documentary on how guns trafficked from the United States fueled rampant drug gang violence.
Along with his brother Craig, Brent Renaud won a Peabody Award for “Last Chance High,” an HBO series about a school for at-risk youth on Chicago’s West Side. The brothers’ litany of achievements include two duPont-Columbia journalism awards and productions for HBO, NBC, Discovery, PBS, the New York Times, and VICE News. He earned News & Documentary Emmy nominations for his work on HBO’s Dope Sick Love (2005) and a Directors Guild of America Award nomination for directing the 2005 documentary Off to War.