Auckland filmmaker explores a war photographers life in A Good Day To Die

HOKA HEY MOVIE

Auckland filmmaker Harold Monfils has directed documentary A Good To Die: Hoka Hey, a film which explores the life of war photojournalist Jason P. Howe.

A war photographer's multiple near-death experiences have been explored in a documentary by an Auckland filmmaker.

Portuguese born Harold Monfils has directed A Good Day To Die: Hoka Hey, a film which examines the career of war photojournalist Jason P. Howe.

English born Howe survived 12 years on the frontline of four wars documenting conflicts in Colombia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, going to extreme lengths to survive. 

Filmmaker Harold Monfils is now living in Auckland after a 30 year advertising career internationally.
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Filmmaker Harold Monfils is now living in Auckland after a 30 year advertising career internationally.

"Jason Howe's life reads like the adventures of Tintin, if Tintin was a war photographer his name would be Jason P.Howe," Monfils said.  

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Howe has now retired from war journalism and is living in Spain "dealing with a very dark view of the world," Monfils said.

English born Jason P. Howe spent 12 years documenting war zones.
SUPPLIED

English born Jason P. Howe spent 12 years documenting war zones.

Beginning production in 2010, Monfils said it began as a two year project but turned into a six year journey with Howe. 

"I didn't just want to portray his incredible portfolio of work, what I did is I used his work to tell a story," Monfils said.

"It allows you to get closer to him. Rather than getting other people's work to tell his story, I used his work."

A US trained anti-narcotics police officer crouches on a helicopter landing zone in a rainstorm whilst on an operation ...
JASON P. HOWE

A US trained anti-narcotics police officer crouches on a helicopter landing zone in a rainstorm whilst on an operation against drug traffickers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Colombia.

The title Hoka Hey is derived from a tattoo Howe has on the inside of his arm.

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Monfils said Howe originally heard it was a Native American term for "let's roll'.

However when working in Columbia he learned it also meant "a good day to die."

"Which is pretty apt for his profession," Monfils said.

"He's been very lucky because he has missed some incredible moments of life that [if he was] four metres forward or in a slightly different position he would have been killed or maimed."

In one instance in Colombia Howe was nearly blown up by a bus that guerillas had left as a roadblock rigged with explosives. 

Another time in Afghanistan, a British soldier right behind him had his legs blown off by a improvised explosive devise (IED). 

Monfils said the photos from this incident went on to spark controversy from the British Ministry of Defence as they didn't want them to be published.

As a result Howe was unofficially banned from the frontline. 

"It takes a lot for a story to get out and it takes a person like Jason P. Howe to go against the grain and insist on publishing these pictures."

A Good Day to Die screens screens May 29 and June 4 at the Q Theatre as part of the Documentary Edge Festival. 

 - Stuff

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