James Foley documentary earns Oscar nomination

Staff Report January 24. 2017 10:12PM
"Jim: The James Foley Story” includes not only details of Foley's captivity and murder by the Islamic State but shines a light on the journalist's life and efforts to capture on film some of the most dangerous parts of the world. (Courtesy)

The moving documentary on the life of slain New Hampshire journalist James Foley of Rochester got nominated for an Academy Award Tuesday as one of five now competing for best song.

“The Empty Chair” was written and performed by J. Ralph and Sting, one of 94 songs eligible for a nomination. Sting, who has had three Oscar-nominated songs, told Billboard Magazine Tuesday that he’s hopeful this nomination will move more people to see the story of this 40-year-old freelance journalist kneeling at the feet of his hooded, ISIS executioner in an anonymous stretch of desert somewhere in northern Syria.

“We did it because we loved the subject of the movie,” Sting says. “He was an incredible human being who I am so privileged to have gotten to know through the film. I feel that being nominated can shine more light on this film. People should see it. It’s an extraordinary, powerful and important film.”

Other reporters in “Jim: The James Foley Story” say that image of Foley before his executioner was one of the most iconic of the 21st Century, behind only the hijacked planes striking the twin towers in New York City.

“The stakes are higher when you’re writing about a person who really existed, a person with family and friends you want to honor,” Sting told Billboard. “I’m glad I found the metaphor of the empty chair. I said no at first (when Ralph asked). I said ‘This is beyond my powers.’ I curated the song from what (Jim’s) family and friends said about him. It’s their song.”

Reviewers praised the film after it debuted on HBO last year.


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