by Rachel Willis
If you were paying attention to the news in the early 1990s, you’ve likely seen the aerial footage from Bob (now Zoey) Tur and Marika Gerrard-Tur that came out of Los Angeles. Even now, some of the captured footage is embedded within the American culture.
Collating hundreds of hours of footage, director Matt Yoka has assembled a fascinating and poignant documentary about the quest to be first on the scene of breaking news and about the heartbreak of one family behind the camera.
Zoey Tur talks in-depth about her experiences behind the camera in LA, starting in the late 1970s and running through the late ’90s. Her enthusiasm for the chase – whether following police cruisers in the family car (with wife and children in tow), or hovering over the city in her helicopter – is infectious. It’s not hard to see why she pursued the stories with such zeal.
The other half of the duo, Marika, was instantly caught up in the adrenaline rush after her first date with Tur. She describes Tur as being unlike anyone she had known before – a thrill seeker who sucked her into a world of breaking news.
Yoka is not interested in mining the ethical grey area that surrounded the early days of breaking news. Instead, he is more interested in looking at what happens to the people behind the camera – how are they affected by the crime and violence they capture, sometimes as it’s happening?
One of Tur’s most infamous captures was the beating of Reginald Denny. Broadcast on live television (Tur behind the camera in her helicopter), Denny was dragged from his truck and beaten by several men during the LA riots that followed the acquittal of the four officers responsible for the attack on Rodney King.
Tur cannot help but pass judgment on the violence recorded from above, and this is something Yoka focuses on: the influence, not only of the images captured, but the opinions from those recording the footage, on society.
As we watch the seemingly increasing violence in LA, we also watch it reflected in Tur. Violence and anger well up within her, and she lashes out at her family.
Yoka’s sensitive examination of a family and a culture that hinges on the precipice of breaking news is well worth making time for.