Heather O’Neill’s documentary “No Ordinary Life” centers on five pioneering frontline and combat camerawomen: Maria Fleet, Jane Evans, Cynde Strand, Mary Rogers, and Margaret Moth. A new trailer for the Tribeca 2021 title features footage these women captured in war zones, revolutions, and natural disasters — situations in which the women put their bodies and safety on the line to “let the rest of the world know what’s going on.” “We’d come back with the goods,” one character recalls in the doc’s trailer.
The subjects tend to agree that the incredibly dangerous work was worth it, but the job took an enormous toll. There were times when they weren’t sure they would survive their assignment. “The guys with the AK-47s pulled up right next to us and just started firing into our car,” a character shares. “I just remember thinking, ‘This is how it ends. We made a mistake and this is how it ends.’”
“No Ordinary Life” also explores the community the camerawomen found with one another and the lasting impact their work had on the generations that followed. “It is a sisterhood. When you go into these situations that are very difficult, very scary, it’s nice to know that somebody understands what you’ve been through. There’s not that many people that understand what you’ve been through,” one subject describes. “These camerawomen blazed a trail that they didn’t even know they were blazing at the time. They were incredibly brave, incredibly resourceful,” anchor and journalist Christiane Amanpour says.
An Emmy and Peabody-winner, O’Neill has directed and produced projects all over the world with docuseries “CNN Presents.” She produced the doc “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.”
“No Ordinary Life” will make its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival next month.