For every photograph or frame of film that comes out of a war zone, there was a human being behind the lens. And getting the shots that most represent the horror of war requires being up close and personal with that horror — and with the violence that causes it.
In April 2011, 40-year-old British-born, New York-based photojournalist Tim Hetherington, the Academy Award-nominated co-director of the celebrated Afghanistan war documentary “Restrepo,” was killed during shelling in Misrata, Libya, while on assignment covering the rebel uprising against the Gadhafi regime.
Hetherington’s collaborator on “Restrepo” was journalist/author Sebastian Junger. On Thursday, April 18, HBO premieres “Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Junger’s documentary tribute to his friend and creative partner.
“I learned an immense amount from Tim,” Junger said in a 2010 interview for “Restrepo,” “and without him, I don’t think this [film] would be happening.”
One of the combat operations that took place in the Korengal Valley at the same time as the events in “Restrepo” — but involving a different platoon than the one being filmed — eventually resulted in a Medal of Honor for Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.
Hetherington caught the only footage of the operation — despite breaking his leg.
“He had to walk all night on it,” Junger says, “because they couldn’t get him off that mountain.”
Junger’s film includes personal interviews with Hetherington’s family and friends, footage from combat zones, and stills of Hetherington’s work, including a stunning set of intimate images of sleeping soldiers, published in Vanity Fair.
In a quote featured at VanityFair.com, Junger says, “The artistic choices he made were incredibly risky, but he was very sure of himself and wound up completely re-inventing his craft. The title of my film … refers as much to Tim’s artistic instincts as to any combat situation he may have been in.”