Neil Brandvold


Director of Photography

Premiering in Tribeca Film Festival, Sheffield DocFest and Sydney Film Festival, IDFA 2023. 

TRANSITION follows conflict filmmaker Jordan Bryon as he is invited by a Taliban Commander to film the daily life of a Taliban unit after the fall of Kabul for the New York Times. 

A stressful assignment for any documentarian, but this assignment proves to be particularly tumultuous because Bryon is in the process of a gender transition. 

Bryon takes us through his transition from starting hormones to undergoing top surgery in Iran. And ultimately, through the complicated relationship he develops with the Taliban fighters he is embedded with.

New York Times: "After Kabul fell to the Taliban, the filmmaker and journalist Jordan Bryon was invited to shoot footage in Afghanistan for The New York Times, juggling the intensity of troubling global affairs with his own gender transition."

RogerEbert: "The movie is equally compelling as a you-are-there war documentary that shows the chaos and destruction with terrifying immediacy. There are firefights, explosions, aerial tracking shots revealing staggering devastation. Rather than force comparisons or contrasts between aspects that don’t have a lot in common, "Transition" has enough assurance to step back and let picture and sound take over."

VARIETY: "A Trans Man Risks Discovery While Covering the Taliban in Afghanistan."



Director of Photography

Featured in over 60 international film festivals and winner of 27 international awards including:

2020 IDFA BestDocumentary Short, 2021 IDA Best Documentary Short, 2021 HotDocs BestDocumentary Short, 2021 Premio Gabo Best Image, 2021 Photo of the YearLATAM Best Short Doc, 2021 Guanajuato International Film Festival, BestShort Doc, 2021 Palm Springs International ShortFest Winner Best of theFest.

UNFORGIVABLE follows the complex story of two homosexual gangmembers inside an isolation ward in a maximum security prison in ElSalvador. 


TIME MAGAZINE Inside a Prison Cell for Gay Former Gang Members in El Salvador.

BBC NEWS It's Easier to Kill a Man.

EL PAIS  El amor imposible de dos pandilleros gais.

THE ECONOMIST An astonishing documentary follows a young, gay sicario in prison

El Salvadors Prison State


In El Salvador, Gabriel Urrutia searches for his wife and stepdaughter, who were jailed in the country’s repressive crackdown on gangs that has resulted in nearly 70,000 arrests since March 2022. 

The government suspended the constitutional right to legal defence and made it possible to imprison people indefinitely before trial. Like Gabriel’s family members, many others have disappeared into the country's dangerous and overcrowded prisons. 

Fault Lines travels to El Salvador to report on the war on gangs and investigate claims of abuse and deaths in prison.

No Country For Haitians


Fault Lines follows the lives of Haitians who have been deported from the US to a country with soaring levels of violence and instability.

Over the past year, the United States government has sent more than 25,000 asylum seekers back to Haiti while the country is in the throes of chaos. A full-scale war is under way in the capital, Port-Au-Prince, between rival gangs that are fighting for territory and influence.

Homicides and kidnappings have soared since Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise was killed in 2021.

Winner, Overseas Press Club of America -- Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV, Video or Documentary Interpretation of international affairs up to 30 minutes.

Famine propelled by climate change threatens Somalia

PBS NewsHour

Somalia is suffering one of the most acute humanitarian crises in the world. A crushing combination of conflict and climate change has left millions in jeopardy of starvation as famine again stalks the land. Special correspondent Tania Rashid and producer-videographer Neil Brandvold recently traveled to Somalia and filed this report. 

El Sentido de las Cuerdas

Director of Photography

For over three years filmmakers Neil Brandvold and Marcela Zamora follow the lives of three teenage girls in in El Salvador who throughout their childhood were victims of sexual and psychological violence, leading them to seek refuge in the violent streets of El Salvador. 

After being forcibly recruited into gangs they find themselves trapped in a brutal Salvadoran prison where they receive a music workshop. For the first time they find meaning to their lives through the strings of the violin and cello, and embark on a journey seeking redemption through music.

Official Selection of the Icaro Film Festival. 


HONDROS explores the life and legacy of late war photojournalist Chris Hondros, who covered every major world event since the late 1990s, taking viewers behind the scenes to tell the untold stories of many of Hondros’s most iconic photographs. 

HONDROS explores the complexities inherent in covering more than a decade of conflict, while trying to maintain a normal life.  Chris was killed in Libya in 2011, but he left a lasting impact on his profession that is still felt today.

Cinematographer: Liberia

Massacre in El Salvador


“Massacre in El Salvador”examines the horrors of what happened when U.S.-trained and -equipped Salvadoran soldiers killed some 1,000 civilians, many of them children. Our investigation follows the ongoing fight for justice for the horrific 1981 attack on the village of El Mozote and surrounding areas, and how today the case against high-ranking military officials is faltering.

Winner of the Telly Awards and National Press Club's Edwin M. Hood Award.

Latin America’s Deadliest Place to Be a Woman 

In Honduras, gang violence, poverty and corruption are waging a bloody war against women. In the past year alone, a woman has been murdered every 36 hours. The film follows the complex lives of women in the most dangerous neighborhood for women in Honduras. 

The film is the highest performing documentary in the history of VICE World News with over 20 million views in its first year online.


What's Driving People From El Salvador

For many in El Salvador, the options are few: Journey north to try to cross into America illegally, or live in fear at home. Our documentary explores how rampant gang violence continues to push Salvadorans into perilous migrant caravans.

Exit Honduras

Al Jazeera  FaultLines

Thousands of Hondurans like 19-year-old Cesar Sanchez are leaving their country to escape droughts, hurricanes and floods. As the world gathers for the UN climate change conference, our latest Fault Lines “Exit Honduras” looks at how climate change is driving migration, poverty and violence. 

The film received a citation from the Overseas Press Club of America -- Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV, Video or Documentary Interpretation of international affairs up to 30 minutes.


An Asylum Seeker’s Journey from El Salvador

When Manuel ran away from El Salvador, in 2015, the country had one of the highest murder rates in the world: a hundred and four murders per hundred thousand inhabitants. So Manuel, who was still a teen-ager, made sure that he would make it to the U.S.’s southern border with a file of legal documents that, he thought, could save his life. “Evidence,” he said—“papers that affirmed that I was in danger.” 


God and the Gang

18th Street and MS-13 gangs terrorise El Salvador, making it one of the most deadly places on earth. Leaving the gang is not easy—former gangsters face rejection from society and the threat of violence from other gang members and the police. Can religion provide a safe way out?

Butchered for Profit: Inside Organ Trafficking

The global black market for organs is thriving. We go inside this vile criminal trade in Mexico, China and Pakistan to meet the unscrupulous surgeons and traffickers butchering people for profit.

The hour long documentary follows exclusive access with the most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico, and follows vast networks of organ traffickers in China and Pakistan praying on the most vulnerable people around the globe. 

Published: May 2021 on Canal+ France and VICE TV US, coming to All4 UK and SBS Australia in August/September 2021


The Only Way Out

In El Salvador, where brutal gangs like MS-13 and 18th Street have given the country the world’s highest murder rate, the only way out for members is to become born-again Christians. In this intimate look at the lives of former gang members, we follow two pastors from the rival gangs as they convert gang members to stop them falling back into violent ways.

Reporting made possible by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting


The Gang Crackdown

FRONTLINE investigates how a slew of gruesome killings linked to MS-13 led to many immigrant teens being accused of gang affiliation and unlawfully detained.

PBS NewsHour

Desperate Journey

This past March, a group of Honduran migrants formed a large caravan fleeing Central America for the United States. President Joe Biden has incentivized Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico to militarize their borders to stop the flow of migrants. Special correspondent Tania Rashid and Neil Brandvold report the dangers one man is running from, and the ones he faces during his attempt to get to the U.S.

Big Story | State of Fear

The U.S. Legacy in El Salvador

El Salvador ranks among the world’s most dangerous places. Violent crime associated with gang activity has created war zone like conditions in a nation that has been at peace for nearly three decades. These conditions have caused thousands to flee the country for the nearby United States.

‘State of Fear: The U.S. Legacy in El Salvador’ takes viewers deep inside this ever-growing world of gangs and violence while examining the effects of migration and deportation on gang membership.

WITNESS | Al Jazeera: Deportees Welcome

Every year, more than 13,000 people are deported from the United States to El Salvador. Many are returning to a country they have not seen in years.

They must locate family, find work and stay alive in the capital, San Salvador, a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Recently deported Dilan, 18, returns to one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the capital, controlled by the notorious MS-13 gang.

Official Selection of the ICARO Film Festival.


Nearly a million peopled unlawfully immigrated to the United States between 2013 and 2015 according to the Department of Homeland Security. Many of these immigrants claimed asylum at the United States’ southern Border with Mexico.

Fleeing violence, drug cartels and poverty these journeys continue today, however changes in United States policy have made seeking asylum near impossible. In turn, those seeking a new beginning have to gamble with their own lives.

Separating the United States from Mexico is a border spanning nearly 2000 miles. Much of this boundary is covered by vast swaths of deserts; making entry difficult even where no man-made barriers stand. Deserted explores the peril of this crossing, and the work done by humanitarians to prevent additional deaths.

Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security Women Waging Peace In Central America

The current violence in El Salvador and Honduras "is as brutal as war itself and people are in pain." Learn how women are combating gang violence and trying to build peace in Central America.


Family Faces Impossible Choice: Reunite Child With Detained Mother or Undocumented Father?

Miguel Amaya’s phone rang. An undocumented immigrant living in Oakland, California, Miguel had been anxiously awaiting a call from his wife, Jhoseline, who along with their 8-year-old daughter, Michelle, was braving the dangerous journey from El Salvador to the United States.  The voice on the other end of the line wasn’t that of Jhoseline, but of an ICE agent. What mother and daughter believed to be the end of their journey, in fact, marked the beginning of a new nightmare. Under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, Jhoseline and Michelle were separated at the time of their apprehension. 


The Fearless Ebola Hunters of Sierra Leone

Follow the courageous men and women known as Ebola hunters, who respond to Ebola cases throughout Sierra Leone. They intercept infected and fleeing patients, set up quarantines, and handle proper burials while facing fear and daily death threats. In taking on this difficult job, the hunters hope to help contain the spread of Ebola and earn the public's trust.

Director of Photography, Producer, Editor.


Inside Africa's Most Deadly Conflict

A rare glimpse inside the M23 rebellion in DRC's two decades long civil ware which has lead to the deaths of millions. An inside look into the fighting in this stunning landscape of jungle, volcanoes and rolling farms about the size of the Eastern USA. In a first, the U.N. Security Council authorized an offensive military force to join Congolese government soldiers in operations against the rebels. 



The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death.

Camera Operator: El Salvador


Invisible Killers Ebola

Invisible Killers: EBOLA examines one of the world's deadliest viruses. The episode looks back at the 2014 West African Outbreak - where lack of public health infrastructure, cultural practices, and a slow global response produced the deadliest outbreak on record.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Inside an Ebola Treatment Unit

Get an inside look at a Doctors Without Borders Ebola clinic in Monrovia, Liberia. Physician Daniel Chertow takes us through the clinic and shares his thoughts on what it's like to be volunteering in the midst of an epidemic like no other.

Center for Strategic & International Studies | Regeneration: Restoring Soil Health with Biodiversity in El Salvador

Farmers in El Salvador are planting a diverse array of crops and trees to improve crop yields and restore the health of the soil. CSIS presents chapter two of a three-part series on different climate issues around the world.

Using Format