Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think it is the fantasy of many young men to travel to
the hot spots of armed conflict and be a war photographer.
combination of danger, wanderlust, detachment from material world and freedom from daily grind we call life. It's that 'freedom that you can
leave your world behind with a drop of a hat' thing. I think in every men
there is a sense of longing for that coveted place called solitude that
is far deeper and greater than just a misguided machismo. With this in mind, Tim
Hetherington, combat photographer, journalist, humanitarian, director of Restrepo
, who died in Libya in 2011, is
remembered by his fellow combat journalist and co-director of that
documentary, Sebastian Junger.
It was the Liberian soccer team that changed Hetherington. They needed
someone to document the sport teams from the country still reeling from a civil war. After traveling with the rebel soldiers and experiencing deadly firefights, he went over to neighboring Sierra Leone. There he visited the school for
the blind, where thousands of war orphans gave evidence of being victimized by soldiers who seemed to believe in an eye for an eye retaliation quite
literally. Everywhere he went, he
produced many profound photographs.
With many interviewees in the doc
and video footage of him, we get the sense of Hetherington's ease with
his subject. He had a good head on his shoulders. He wasn't there just
to get the perfect shot. He was there to bear witness. Then came Afghanistan,
where he immersed himself with those combat soldiers. As I flip through Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold
, his book of photographs, I am certain that he was smart enough to know that moral outrage doesn't equal
engagement. He also knew witnessing carried a certain responsibility.
It is ironic that his death came right after he repeatedly said he was
done with combat journalism. He was 40 and in a serious relationship. Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?
only pays tribute to Hetherington but gives a real insight into the
psyche of combat journalists at large. It's not only a thoughtful tribute to a fallen brother in arms (or rather, brother in camera) but a strong, revealing documentary. Soon
after the death of his colleague, Junger launched a program to provide emergency medical
training for freelance combat journalists - RISC (Reporters Instructed in
Saving Colleagues).Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington premieres April 18 at 8 p.m. on HBO
and will be playing at IFC Center in New York on April 23. Junger will be at the screening for Q & A.Dustin Chang is a freelance photographer. His musings and opinions on the world can be found at www.dustinchang.com
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