Early on in “Jim: The James Foley Story”, Foley is speaking at Marquette University after having been captured by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, jailed in Libya, and released 44 days later. He tells the audience he’s not a hero; he’s just a regular guy…

…but that’s bullshit.

For 120 absorbing minutes, “Jim: The James Foley Story” chronicles the life, death, and legacy of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by ISIL in August of 2014.

Directed by childhood friend Brian Oakes, “Jim” is an intimate and moving account not to be missed. Thankfully, it was acquired by HBO, and airs February 6. Take two hours out of your life and watch it.

Oaks deftly intertwines revealing interviews with family, friends, fellow reporters and fellow captives; photos and videotape from holidays and from Jim’s own reporting; and artistic reenactments into a testimony to the character of James Foley. By the end, you’ll wish you’d known him in real life.

From his early days as a young man finding his place in the world, to one of his first “real jobs” as a teacher with Teach For America, to his life’s work as a freelance conflict journalist with GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse (among others), Oaks’ use of potent, first-hand knowledge of the man is undeniably affecting. Two hours doesn’t seem long enough for this courageous man, who was a trusted friend to his fellow journalists, and a source of support to his fellow captives until the bitter end.

It may make you question the United Sates’ involvement in areas such as Syria, or the policy to not negotiate with terrorists. It was such negotiation that secured the release of Foley’s fellow captives, citizens of other countries such as France and Italy. They testify to the horrors they endured, of the moments of relief while in captivity, and of Foley’s strength in the face of pure evil. The conditions these journalists risk their lives to report are brutal, unbelievable; but that is precisely why James felt a need to get those stories out to a world that knows more about the Kardashians than about the Assad regime.

And why Oaks felt a need to keep Jim’s story and legacy alive in a world that moves on to the next news cycle far too quickly.


120 minutes

Directed by: Brian Oakes