Funeral held for Arkansas-native filmmaker Brent Renaud who was killed in Ukraine
A funeral service was held on Saturday for filmmaker Brent Renaud, an Arkansas native who was killed on March 13 while covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine, near Kyiv.
At Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock, people gathered to mourn his death and honor him by sharing stories of Renaud and his work.
A letter from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was read during the service, sharing his grief and condolences with Renaud's family.
“A talented and brave journalist, Brent lost his life while documenting human tragedy, devastation and suffering of the millions of Ukrainians,” wrote Zelenskyy.
Recently retired Lt. Col. Brain Mason met Renaud when they worked together in Baghdad, Iraq as Renaud was embedded with the military. He spoke at the funeral as a personal witness to the filmmaker's life and time in Ukraine.
"That’s exactly what Brent was doing in Ukraine, showing us the plight of millions fleeing a war, trying to escape the horrific actions of an evil enemy with an evil leader. I said it. I am convinced his death was a deliberate act” Mason said of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mason said Renaud’s death brought global attention to condemning the killing of innocent civilians and journalists.
Derek Brown, a grassroots organizer in Chicago was part of “Last Chance High,” an eight-part series highlighting troubled youth and their struggle. He shared stories of being a gang member living a life of crime.
“Speaking with [Renaud] and his brother,” Brown said, “it released so much stress and it gave me a new purpose to living. It gave a new purpose to life.”
He praised Renaud’s work, saying it was powerful and provided voices to those in need.
“I lived in a dark world,” Brown said. “The place that I came from, I always felt, and everybody in my community felt that nobody cared.”
Fellow filmmaker and journalist Jon Alpert, who taught Renaud how to produce documentaries, reflected on Renaud’s unstoppable dedication and passion for his work.
“Brent wanted to learn how to use his camera to do all the things he’s being honored here today for,” Alpert said. “Brent wanted to walk in our footsteps and our footsteps, and he knew it, often went to really dangerous places.”
He reflected on trips he took with Renaud to meet racecar drivers in Indiana and to film war traveling from Pakistan to Afghanistan, where Alpert said they were nearly killed several times.
“Brent was put here on the Earth to do this,” Alpert said, “and he did it better than anybody else. And he did it so that someday, maybe, there would be no more war.”
The funeral ended with Renaud’s brother reading the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, which was known for comforting Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment in South Africa.
Craig Renaud expressed the sentiments that he said many Arkansans and Americans share. After finishing the poem he added, “I miss you, Brent.”