April 20, 2011

R.I.P. Filmmaker/Photographer Tim Hetherington, and a Look at His Eulogistic 'Diary'

Few have given the photographer-filmmaker label as much meaning as Tim Hetherington, whose directorial debut Restrepo won the Grand Jury Prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival. I had a chance to see Hetherington in person a few months after the film's Sundance bow, at the Full Frame Film Festival, and I'm sure everyone in the room shared my belief that his filmmaking career would be a long and storied one (as a photographer, he'd already won numerous awards). However, news of the worst kind made its way to us via Libya today, where Hetherington was shot and killed in a firefight. Hetherington's abstract short, "Diary," premiered at this year's Full Frame festival just a week ago; here it is.

Few films delve into what it's like to be a working war reporter, and the abstract nature of Diary (edited beautifully by Magali Charrier) offers no political commentary or contextualizing titles, instead serving as a fitting but unfortunate coda to Hetherington's too-short career:

About Hetherington's Restrepo, I wrote at Filmmaker Magazine:

While Life Extended portrays death as Father Time, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington‘s Sundance-winning Restrepo characterizes the other side of the equation: death as a visitor who might call at any time, at the behest of a very real enemy. Restrepo follows U.S. soldiers deployed in Afghanistan’s Korengal valley, and reveals unflinchingly that the characters and vernacular of the conflict in the Middle East aren’t any different from what you might witness in a local paintball fight — except in this battle, the combatants are in way over their heads, with a lack of clear goals and deadly consequences on both sides. When one of the squad members is harrowingly killed in action, the U.S. Captain vows that the squad will “find the motherfuckers that did this and make them pay.” Translate that to Pashto and you can bet the exact same speech is being made on the other side.

Hetherington's bravery is unfathomable to those of us safely ensconced in the internet world, as he courageously put himself in harm's way to bring us important reporting. Tim and the other reporters lost at his side: thank you for what you gave us, and may your work live on.

Your Comment

5 Comments

Restrepo is truly an epic feat of filmmaking, who else has the guts to make such a film? He'll be remembered for a long time to come.

April 21, 2011 at 7:18AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Max

Tragedy. My only connection to his work was watching Restrepo which was a masterpiece.

April 22, 2011 at 9:18AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Will Gilbey

rest in peace.

April 23, 2011 at 7:04AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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kisekka rajab

Restrepo had a jaw-dropping edge that is rarely seen. It brought you into the world of those individuals so vividly through wild emotion. He made Restrepo to say the least, which is an incredible film and an incredible feat. Unfortunately, we lose one of the greatest documentary filmmakers that ever lived.

April 23, 2011 at 4:44PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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that film hit me hard, what an artist . . . but man, these pointless wars have gotta stop . . . another life gone and for what, really? i hope there's film-making facilities on the other side :)

April 25, 2011 at 3:42AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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james