The life of photojournalist and activist Dan Eldon was short but full of wanderlust. Born in London then raised in Kenya, Eldon spent his youth exploring 46 different countries around the globe, documenting his adventures in art-filled journals that carried a worldly maturity well beyond his years.
In 1992, he joined with a band of freelance journalists to cover the famine in wartorn Somalia; his photographs appeared in Time and Newsweek. Eldon was killed with three other journalists on assignment shortly after the U.S. deployed peacekeeping troops. The Journey Is the Destination is both a love song to Eldon’s 23 years of extraordinary life and a cautionary tale about intervening in messy overseas conflicts.
What’s it like to have a film in the Santa Barbara International Film Festival?
Film festival screenings are heaven-sent. A filmmaker will never have a better audience. A festival is where people who love films come to watch. Regular people, real people, not just industry insiders.
In your research, what was the most interesting thing you learned about Dan Eldon’s life?
Dan was the kind of person who started every day thinking “How can I make the world a better place today than it was yesterday?” He was constantly striving though his life to build bridges and bring people together across the divide of race, religion, language, or ethnicity.
How is the movie’s commentary on American involvement in foreign conflicts relevant today?
The back half of the film recounts the well-meaning but terribly misguided foreign policy of sending in an occupying military to enforce peace. On the ground, among the regular people who were Dan’s friends, you can see how having guns pointed at families, or homes invaded in the name of “security,” can turn an entire population against you. Then terrible mistakes are made, like the bombing of July 12, 1993, which killed village elders, women, and children, instead of warlords, and turned the whole of Somalia against the Americans. Next comes Black Hawk Down.
What do you hope the audience will take away from this film?
We hope that people learn from Dan’s story that the most valuable thing in life is to build bridges, not walls; to find what we have in common, and not be concerned about what appears to divide us. Dan’s story is ultimately an uplifting story of hope, of what’s possible — he accomplished so much with such humour and dignity during his life; we could all use more of that inspirational perspective!