Secondary School Counseling
Life Beyond Country School

NCCS Graduate and Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker Matthew Heineman’s Film “A Private War” Now In Theaters

New Canaan Country School graduate Matthew Heineman ʼ98 is the director and producer of a new film, “A Private War” hitting theaters nationwide today. A biopic about Marie Colvin, the legendary, eye-patch-wearing Sunday Times correspondent, the film has been receiving rave reviews since it first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September.
“A Private War” was a NY Times Critic’s Pick in a review that called the film “authentically moving.” Variety hailed the film as “Director Matthew Heineman’s astonishing narrative debut,” and “an incredibly sophisticated, psychologically immersive film.” PBS also called it, “Immediately an Oscar® contender. The most powerful war movie since the ‘Hurt Locker’.”
In the spring of 2015, Heineman, who is well-known for his hard hitting documentaries “Cartel Land” and “City of Ghosts,” wanted to make this film because he was inspired by the incredible true story of Marie Colvin.
“After finishing Cartel Land, I was sent a number of different scripts; none of which really spoke to me. But when I got an early draft of A Private War, it spoke to me in such a profound way – it was a film I had to make,” he explained. “I’ve been in conflict zones before, I’ve been shot at, so her story of working in dangerous places is not foreign to me – and neither is the feeling of coming back home and having those experiences linger with you. I deeply empathized with Marie Colvin because I’ve tried to do something similar in my work to what she was able to accomplish – take complex geopolitical conflicts and humanize them.”
For Heineman, the film is also a tribute to journalism. “In this era of fake news with journalists under constant attack, for me the film is not just an homage to Marie fighting for the truth – but a homage to the importance of journalism in our society.” said Heineman by phone.
The role of Marie Colvin is played in the film by Academy Award ® Nominee Rosamund Pike. Additional cast members include Jamie Dornan and Academy Award ® Nominee Stanley Tucci. Heineman, who is himself an Academy Award ® Nominated Director for “Cartel Land,” has been called by The Sundance Film Festival "one of the most talented and exciting documentary filmmakers working today.” He also won the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary Award from the Director’s Guild of America for both “City of Ghosts” and “Cartel Land”, becoming one of only three people to win the prestigious honor twice.
Heineman, the recipient of the school’s 2012 Alumni Award, recalls his time as a student at the pre-K through Grade 9 New Canaan Country School as having influenced his worldview.
“I look back very fondly on my time at Country School – one of the many things NCCS did is make me curious about the world, which has resonated in all the work that I’ve done. NCCS made me inquisitive and made me want to explore. Now I have the privilege of diving into new worlds and exploring them every few years through my various film. I feel a huge responsibility to explore underreported human stories and shed light on dark corners of the world.”

“A Private War” is now playing locally at Stamford Town Center’s Bow Tie 9 and Garden Cinema of Norwalk. For more information about the film, to watch the trailer or to find a theater near you, please visit For information about Heineman’s prior films please visit: