Micah Garen

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Micah Garen
Micah Garen - PopTech 2011 - Camden Maine USA (6266621592).jpg
Born1968 (age 54–55)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materCornell, Archaeology
documentary filmmaker
Notable workAmerican Hostage
Identity and Exile: an American's struggle with Zionism
Light on the Sea
Call Me Ehsaan
PartnerMarie-Hélène Carleton
Parent(s)Alan Garen, Yale professor
AwardsGolden Nymph award, 2014[1]
Gallery Photographica, prize-winning photograph[2]
Websitefourcornersmedia.net screeningroom.org

Micah Garen is an American documentary filmmaker and journalist whose work has focused on conflict zones in the Middle East[3] and Afghanistan. He is notable for surviving a kidnapping ordeal in Iraq in 2004. He wrote a book about the kidnapping incident which included his confinement as well as the efforts of friends and relatives to secure his release; according to a report in Kirkus Reviews, the book was "extraordinarily compelling" and "gripping."[4] In addition, Garen is a prize-winning photographer.[2][5] He has written for Vanity Fair,[6] Newsweek,[7] The New York Times[8] and other publications. Micah Garen and Marie-Helene Carleton have directed four documentaries for Al Jazeera's Correspondent series,[9] including Identity and Exile: an American's struggle with Zionism featuring photojournalist Matthew Cassel. The film was awarded the top Golden Nymph prize at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in 2014.[1] Garen has made a number of short documentaries, including one describing the lives of Egyptian women during the political upheavals in 2011[10] one on an American airman killed in Afghanistan[11] and one on refugees fleeing Turkey to Greece by boat.[12] With Marie-Hélène Carleton, Garen is working on a feature documentary from Iraq entitled The Road to Nasiriyah which was selected for Film Independent's inaugural documentary lab in 2011.[13] Garen founded ScreeningRoom in 2015, an online community for filmmakers with tools including collaborative feedback on cuts, festival submissions and film grants.[14]

Kidnapping ordeal[edit]

Garen spent months in Iraq documenting the "systematic dismantling" of the nation's cultural and archaeological legacy, according to one report.[15][16] On August 13, 2004, while he was in a market taking photographs with a regular camera, Garen and his Iraqi translator, Amir Doshi, were kidnapped by Shia extremists[15] and they were held hostage in Nasiriya in southern Iraq.[15][17] On August 19, a video aired on al-Jazeera in which Garen appeared sitting on the floor in front of masked insurgents with weapons making demands for his release. The kidnapping story drew international media attention. During the captivity, there was a strong behind-the-scenes effort to encourage Iraqi authority figures to secure his release, partially by his partner, Marie-Helene Carleton, Garen's sister Eva Garen, as well as people within Yale University, where Garen's father is a professor.[18] His captors eventually turned Garen and his translator over to representatives of Moqtada al-Sadr in Nasiriya, unharmed, on August 22, 2004.[19] He said he was very thankful to the cleric and his aides for their efforts at getting him released.[20] After being released, he said he wanted to stay in Iraq to continue with his documentary project.[21]

A week before his kidnapping, Garen and Doshi investigated Italian army reports of a car bomb that had been shot at in Nasiriyah and exploded during fighting between the Medhi Army and the Italian military. They found that the reported car bomb was not a car bomb, but an ambulance with five civilians who had been killed, including a pregnant woman who was being taken to a hospital north of the city. Garen and Doshi conducted interviews with the ambulance driver who survived and the hospital that dispatched the ambulance, as well as filmed the bodies in the morgue, and the remains of the ambulance on the bridge.[22] They gave parts of their footage to an Italian TV channel staying on the Italian base in Nasiriyah, as the TV station was unable to travel into Nasiriyah and investigate themselves. Italian television aired the story and it cause a huge uproar, as it was the first time the Italian military had been accused of wrongdoing in Iraq. General Dalzini denied the Italian military had shot an ambulance. Immediately following, Garen and Doshi were interrogated for many hours by the Italian military. Garen left the Italian military base, where he had been staying, for Baghdad. Two years after the incident, three soldiers were indicted for shooting at the ambulance,[23] the first time Italian soldiers had been indicted for a crime during the Iraq war.


  • Micah Garen and Marie-Hélène Carlton, American Hostage: A Memoir of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq and the Remarkable Battle to Win His Release. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. ISBN 0743276604 (hardback). New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. ISBN 1416586318 (paperback).
  • "The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia" Harry N. Abrams, 2005. ISBN 0810958724



  • Winner of the Golden Nymph for Best News Documentary at the 2014 Festival de Television de Monte Carlo
  • Finalist New York Festivals History and Society for Al Jazeera Correspondent Film Off the Rails: A Journey through Japan[24]
  • 2009 Webby Honoree Deep Divide[25]
  • 2014 Webby Honoree The Daily Struggle of Lebanon's One Million Syrian Refugees[26]
  • First Place Gallery Photographica competition 2012[27]


  1. ^ a b 17 June 2014, Media Update, Al Jazeera English honoured at Monte Carlo Television Festival, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Filmmakers Marie-Helen Carleton and Micah Garen (Four Corner Media) joined Cassel at the ceremony...."
  2. ^ a b Jeff Curto, February 26, 2012, Camera Position, Camera Position 96 : Three Prizewinners, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...three “prizewinner” photographs for the Gallery Photographica exhibition and competition. Photographs by Micah Garen, ..."
  3. ^ Mark Thompson, March 26, 2012, Time magazine, Call me Eshaan, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Air Force Lieut. Colonel John Darin Loftis ... Thankfully, documentary filmmaker Micah Garen was able to capture some video of Loftis,..."
  4. ^ Oct. 30, 2005, Kirkus Reviews, AMERICAN HOSTAGE: A Memoir of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq and the Remarkable Battle to Win His Release, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Gripping account of journalist Garen's kidnapping ... The authors do an admirable job of leading the reader through the chaos ... their story remains extraordinarily compelling...."
  5. ^ Gallery Photographica, 2012, Finalists for the 2012 San Francisco International Photography Exhibition, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Afghan Poppy Farmer in Marja 1st Place..."
  6. ^ Micah Garen, July 26, 2010, Vanity Fair, Marja’s Hearts and Minds, Accessed July 11, 2014
  7. ^ Micah Green, September 21, 2010, Newsweek, Marja: The New Afghan Battleground, Accessed July 11, 2014
  8. ^ Banerjee, Neela; Garen, Micah (2004-04-04). "Saving Iraq's Archaeological Past From Thieves Remains an Uphill Battle". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  9. ^ "Al Jazeera Correspondent - Al Jazeera English". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  10. ^ ETHAN G. LOEWI, October 25, 2011, The Harvard Crimson, Documentary Highlights Concerns with Egyptian Military Leadership, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...chance to hear from ... journalist Micah Garen, one of the film’s directors ... stories of four middle-class Egyptian women during the dramatic political upheaval ..."
  11. ^ Garen, Micah (2012-03-24). "Call Me Ehsaan". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  12. ^ "Light on the Sea: One Woman's Story from the Front Lines of the Refugee Crisis". Vanity Fair Videos. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  13. ^ "Film Independent Selects 14 Filmmakers for Inaugural Documentary Lab | Film Independent Press Center". www.filmindependent.org. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  14. ^ "4 early-stage media ventures worth following". 12 May 2015.
  15. ^ a b c Adnan R. Khan, July 11, 2014, Macleans magazine, Understanding Iraq’s real tragedy: The nation is suffering a crisis of identity so fundamental that recovering from it will be more daunting than defeating ISIS, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Micah Garen, an American filmmaker who spent years attempting to document the systematic dismantling of Iraq’s cultural legacy...2004, after months of work on a film ... he was kidnapped by Shia insurgents in Nassiriya...."
  16. ^ Rory Stewart, 2006 Harcourt Books, The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq, Accessed July 11, 2014, (see page 375) "...Micah Garen ... making a documentary about archaeological looting..."
  17. ^ CNN International, August 23, 2004, Kidnappers free journalist in Iraq: Shiite leaders prepare for handover of shrine in Najaf, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Garen, 36, was kidnapped August 13 along with his Iraqi translator, Amir Doshe, ..."
  18. ^ AMY KAPLAN, September 23, 2004, Yale Daily News, Prof’s son freed by Iraqi captors, Accessed July 11, 2014, "... professor Alan Garen’s son Micah hostage in Iraq this summer, Yale stepped in to support the Garen family and aid efforts to free Micah Garen...."
  19. ^ "Al-Sadr gets US journalist released", Al-Jazeera, 23 August 2004.
  20. ^ 22 August 2004, BBC News, Kidnapped reporter freed in Iraq, Accessed July 11, 2014, ".. journalist, who is the founder of US company Four Corners Media, told al-Jazeera TV he was "very thankful" to the cleric and his aides for helping to secure his release....."
  21. ^ JANIE HOAP, August 22, 2004, CBS News, Freed Journalist Wants To Stay, Accessed July 11, 2014, "...Hours after being freed by kidnappers ... U.S. journalist Micah Garen said he hoped to stay in Iraq to continue working on a documentary project ..."
  22. ^ "American Hostage: As Jill Carroll Remains Captive in Iraq, Another Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Talks About the Remarkable Battle That Won His Release". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  23. ^ "JURIST - Italy military court indicts soldiers for shooting Iraqi civilians in ambulance mix-up". www.jurist.org. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  24. ^ "New York Festivals - 2017 World's Best Television & Films™ Winners". www.newyorkfestivals.com. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  25. ^ "Deep Divide | The Webby Awards". webbyawards.com. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  26. ^ "The Daily Struggle of Lebanon's One Million Syrian Refugees | The Webby Awards". webbyawards.com. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  27. ^ "Camera Position 96 : Three Prizewinners". Jeff Curto's Camera Position. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2017-05-12.

Guardian Photographs of the Week https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2019/mar/23/the-20-photographs-of-the-week

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