Nixon Pictures

Words of War

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Words of War is a documentary by creator Bruce Nixon alongside award-winning producer Annie Goldson (Brother Number One) and director John Hagen.  Our subject is Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent ex-pat New Zealander, Peter Arnett, who has spent a lifetime covering wars and international crises for major international news organisations, most recently 2003's Gulf War 2 and the long bloody aftermath up to 2006.

Our first stage of filming is 'The Chinese Connection':  Nixon Pictures has set a funding target of NZ$50,000 (US$42,000) to film one of the most pivotal stages of this film - a sprightly 77 year-old Peter Arnett teaching  young Chinese journalism students as a professor of Journalism at Shantou University, China.  The film crew will document this 'reflective time' in Peter's twilight years where he will be in a unique position to reflect on his life reporting a world torn apart by warfare while encouraging the next generation of journalists to seek the truth as he did.

The result of achieving the funding necessary to record this first stage of filming, it will provide the backbone to Words of War. The next stages will be to take Peter back to his old 'office' where he wielded a pen, a camera and a microphone; from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq.


It was once said of Arnett "If you could invent the perfect journalist to cover a war, you would have invented Peter".

The boy who came from the deep south of New Zealand is best known for his live television coverage from Baghdad during the first Gulf War in 1991. His reporting was credited with making CNN a household name and it earned him an Emmy award. 30 years before that though, Peter was working for the Associated Press in Vietnam as one of the 'first-ones-in' and 'last-out' when Saigon eventually fell in 1975. His coverage earned him a Pulitzer Prize and the respect of the world's press.

For 35 years Peter has lived in war-zones everywhere, seeking out the 'truth'. America fired him for it, Presidents wanted him eliminated but that never stopped him. Now well into his 70's, Peter is still seeking the truth as a professor of journalism in China, where he is teaching a new generation of eager young minds to ask the hard questions.


  • Final Extension.


    Hi supporters. Well we have been given another extension to our project to reach our target figure from Boosted which is great. We are however stalled on the 38% figure despite ongoing marketing and submissions to potential large corporate organisations to attract sponsorship. To them, the bottom line is 'what will the return be?' The topic of this film is not easily married to a product as such and so any large sponsorship agreement will be more of a philanthropic agreement. If you have any contacts with any potential organisations who may want to consider this sort of sponsorship deal, please get in touch with them. In the meantime, we will still carry on towards our target figure should we not reach it within this last funding period. We are booking speaking engagements with Rotary for example from July onwards and also looking to apply for a $20,000 cash prize in a film/media project competition in August.

  • Interview on Radio New Zealand


    Thanks to a very connected donor, Radio New Zealand recorded an interview today with Words of War director, John Hagen and creator, co-producer, Bruce Nixon about the Peter Arnett film project. The interview will go to air sometime this Sunday on the 'Arts On Sunday' program. Thank you Radio NZ!

  • 38% and another 30 days.


    It's great to still see the percent rate climbing and that we have been granted a 30 day extension to our fundraising period. So thank you everyone. We are still busy negotiating with various organisations to consider donating but we also need your help to pass onto your own network of friends and co-workers a challenge to join you in making this possible.

  • Donor Pledges NZ$15,000!


    We've just confirmed a donation of NZ$15,000 towards the film 'Words of War'! We can't release the name of the donor just yet for PR reasons but will shortly once the funds arrive and the press release is cleared. That will get us up to 35% funded with 18 days remaining.

  • NZ Herald Story Promotes Words of War


    We made it into the New Zealand Herald on Sunday with a great write-up folks! To read the article see... 19 days to go to reach our target so please let your friends and workmates know how they can donate. Challenge them to match your donation.

  • Medal of Honour Recipient Acknowledges Arnett


    This week in history, 1967, US Airforce pilot Major Leo Thorness was awarded the Medal of Honour for his courageous action over Vietnam in his F-104. He was shot down two weeks later and became a POW. In 1994, after reading Peter Arnett's book 'Live From The Battlefield' he had this to say;

    "Reading Peter's recent book, is, I think, especially helpful because Arnett, like Sheehan, was there for a long, long time. The generals, the soldiers and the other correspondents came andwent, but those who stayed saw the war change, the country change, the people change. Arnett, who was burned again by the still-live embers of passion from Vietnam during his splendid coverage from Baghdad of the late unpleasantness there, is the ultimate wire-service reporter. He reports what he sees. His book is long on action and not much on reflection, but I found one striking passage from early on, during the 1964-65 follies of coup and counter-coup. ("The military authorities wanted us to paint an image of Vietnam as a valued, threatened ally. But that did not square with what we were seeing: a corrupt, irresolute leadership and a country sinking into its own effluent.")

    "Think how much better off both we and the Vietnamese would have been had Arnett and the others been allowed to report what they saw."

    Medal of Honour Recipient Acknowledges Arnett
  • Meet our Director; John Hagen & his thoughts...


    "Peter Arnett's stories were enthralling, his life seemed exciting and inspirational; in short, he was my hero.  For a young boy from a military family Peter Arnett seemed to have the best job in the world, riding helicopters into battle zones, hanging out with all the cool guys, and getting famous by telling the world about it. 

    In truth he changed my life.  The reality of the Vietnam War came crashing into our living room via the front page of the newspaper (and later on the tele).  The glamorous, Commando Comic version of war was replaced by a chilling, emotional reality that has never left me.  And for that I will be forever grateful to Peter.  Sure, he was castigated by politicians and military leaders but I now had a thirst for the truth and Peter’s first hand accounts were giving it to me... 

    I'm fascinated by the seeming dichotomy of a famous journalist who hung his hat on ‘truth in journalism’ being a professor of journalism at a Chinese University.  What do those young people know of freedom of the press and truth in journalism?  And even if Peter can impart those ideals, what happens then? 

    I'm enthralled by the idea of seeing Peter walking across Vietnamese battlefields, recalling those conflicts – how scared was he?  Was he aware that his reports were changing the way people thought about warfare forever? 

    ...And there’s a part of me that wants to explore the big theme that seems to jump out of Peter’s story – where does truthful journalism end and propaganda begin?  Is not telling the whole truth, because of censorship or not wanting to compromise your position with a hostile government, still the truth?  Is reporting what the ‘other side’ says treason or truthfulness?" 

    Of course I want to tell his story in a film."

    Meet our Director; John Hagen & his thoughts...
  • Sir Paul Holmes Interviews Peter Arnett


    It's hard to believe but it will soon be two years since Osama bin Laden was killed by Seal Team 6. It's also nearly three months since NZ broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes passed away. What do the two have in common? 

    On May 8th, 2011, Holmes interviewed Peter Arnett live from Hong Kong to discuss his famous and exclusive TV interview Peter recorded with bin Laden in 1997. It was now only six days after bin Laden's assassination. To watch the interview go to

    Sir Paul Holmes Interviews Peter Arnett
  • Peter Arnett - The Photographer?


    Many of you will have seen the 2002 Mel Gibson film 'We Were Soldiers'. It dramatised the Battle of Ia Drang in 1965 - the first real combat American troops saw in Vietnam and it was almost a slaughter. The film was based on a book - and that book carried a photo on the front cover of a soldier called Ric Rescorla (see below) who was responsible for saving 100's of lives that day. Peter Arnett took the photo. He was one of the first reporters to land during the battle. On September 11 2001, Rick was working in the Trade Towers in NY City. He cleared his floor of staff and got them all out safely. He was last seen heading back up the stairs! He died doing what he did best - saving lives of others. If you have trouble viewing the photo head to our Facebook page at

    Peter Arnett - The Photographer?
  • Reaching the people;


    The donations are still gradually coming in thank you very much and to our new recent donors - you are great! We are busy at our end contacting everyone we can think of who may want to donate, promote or spread the word to their own networks. From local council level to CNN, from Chinese communities to USA-based Universities, the project is being discussed. We hope to soon have news to share that a media-discussion TV show here in NZ may run a piece on Words of War. Pictured below is a shot of Peter with NZ's Governor General, Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, taken last year when we filmed Peter receiving his ONZM for services to journalism. Peter said it meant a great deal to him to have been honoured by his home country.

    Reaching the people;
  • Margaret Thatcher & Peter Arnett - 20 years ago.


    With the passing of ex-British PM, Margaret Thatcher today, here is a little story about Peter's brief 'association' with her; In 1993, Peter was heading into Afghanistan for CNN. The news story was to be about that year's bombing of the World Trade Center and links to Afghanistan's ruinous civil war. Getting around the place was difficult due to the constant armed patrols and check-points (gun-toting militiamen). At one stage, the fixer introduced Peter to them as being Maggie Thatcher's relative - it worked! Afghanistan is another of our film locations we will be taking Peter to for 'Words of War'. Here's a photo of Peter (L) dressed up in the local garb with the mujahedeen during an earlier visit to Afghanistan in 1982 when the Soviet's were fighting their war.

    Margaret Thatcher & Peter Arnett - 20 years ago.
  • Behind Every Great Man...


    We've all heard the saying 'Behind every great man is a great woman' and Peter is no exception. While reporting the Vietnam war Peter spotted Nina and was married in 1962. His mate, Kiwi Reuters reporter, Nick Turner told us the story... "We both thought she was a stunner and vied for her attention all night. In the end I did get to drive home - but she was in the back seat... with Arnett!" Peter was later the victim of a smear-campaign by the US Government who tried to close-down his reports by saying he married the sister of a North Vietnamese army officer. This was not true. Peter and Nina now reside in 'Little Saigon', Orange County, California - one of the destinations for our film crew.

    Behind Every Great Man...
  • Passing Skills To A Generation In China


    Here's a newspaper clipping from the Otago Daily Times based in Dunedin, NZ, taken from last year's filming excursion to Southland with Peter. He says quite a bit about his reason for teaching journalism in China these days. To be able to read the clip head to our Facebook page via the FB link above.

    Passing Skills To A Generation In China
  • Thank You To Our Donors So Far


    A big THANK YOU to our donors so far! Everone we talk to about this film project absolutely love it - world-wide. We are still flat-out contacting our networks, newspapers, twitter and Facebook community as well potential corporate sponsors, so we hope to see our donations keep coming in. Thanks again for helping us and please contact your own network of friends and colleagues and suggest they too donate. Don't forget to let them know they can claim back 33% as a rebate. Cheers from the crew!

  • Where We Need To Be...


    Peter took a break from reporting after Gulf War 2 in 2006. He'd been there for four years straight. He then decided to take on a job teaching journalism in China and has been there ever since. Peter is quite the' celeb' as you can see in the pic! This is where we need to get to with the camera, so please help us get to China with your donation. Thank you.

    Where We Need To Be...
  • 40 Years Ago Today


    40 years ago today, the last troops withdrew from Vietnam, a country that holds great meaning for many who fought the war, protested it and lived it. Peter was there before war broke out and left after it was over. His controversial coverage incurred the wrath of President Johnson, but won him a Pulitzer prize. We love this shot of Peter (R) with his press colleagues in the streets of Saigion, 1968. That's the legendary Eddie Adams (with cameras) who passed away in 2004.

    40 Years Ago Today
  • Peter Arnett & the ARGO Connection!


    Here's something about Peter Arnett that just goes to show he was always where it 'was happening'... In 1979 - 1980 Peter was the senior AP (Associated Press) reporter in Teheran, Iran, during the US Hostage crisis that spawned the recent movie 'ARGO'. Peter is quite sure he was also on board the same Swiss-Air flight that took the hostages out of Iran! Here he is outside the US Embassy, Teheran... trench-coat and all!

    Peter Arnett & the ARGO Connection!
  • Southland Gets Behind Our Project


    Last year in 2012, in the footsteps of supporting local heroes such as Bert Munro (World's Fastest Indian), the Invercargil City Council gave a small grant from their Community Trust to enable us to film Peter Arnett's visit to his birthplace. Peter was enroute from China back to his home in California and dropped in so we could meet for the first time and be shown around where he was born - Riverton, grew-up - Bluff, and also where he did his apprenticeship in journalism - The Southland Times. We love how the South embrace their own! Thank you Invercargill.

    Southland Gets Behind Our Project
  • The Official Film Website 'Words of War'


    Check out our official website for the film where you can read about the history of the project so far, watch the trailer and look at some behind-the-scenes photos from the filming we did in Southland and Wellington last year. Visit:

    The Official Film Website 'Words of War'
  • Peter Arnett says 'Hello Boosted' from China!


    Peter Arnett says 'hello' all the way from Shantou, China, where he is currently teaching journalism to Chinese students. Peter travels back and forth from California, USA, each year to pass on his wealth of knowledge and passion for telling the truth in journalism. In a way, Peter's life hasn't been just a 'brief candle' but more like a torch that he carries high, making sure it burns as bright as possible. He sees himself now in his twilight years as passing that torch onto the next generation of truth-seekers. To watch Peter's video, go to:

    Peter Arnett says 'Hello Boosted' from China!
  • NZ PM John Key talks about 'Words of War'


    The Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, shook hands with Peter Arnett last year saying "I've been following your career closely over the years..." We were there at Government House in Wellington with our camera to film Peter receive his ONZM for services to journalism. Watch what PM John Key has to say about our exciting documentary film here:

    NZ PM John Key talks about 'Words of War'

Nixon Pictures

With 17 years experience of the entire process needed to make good television, Bruce Nixon is able to offer a great deal as Director of Photography.

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