Thursday, October 3, 2013

Milwaukee Film Festival: Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington

Restrepo was one of my favorite documentaries in recent years so when I heard that one of the co-directors Tim Hetherington had died it was a sad occasion.  Sebastian Junger the other co-director of Restrepo made a moving portrait about the life of his friend Tim Hetherington.

The movie uses archival footage and interviews with Tim's parents and friends to trace his life and how he it led him to become a photojournalist.  Luckily for everyone Tim did a few interviews before his death so we get to hear  him talk about how he approaches his work.  What set Tim apart from other photojournalists that covered war was he wanted to show normal people and the quiet moments.  While I don't understand all that photography mumbo jumbo you can tell that Tim had a different way of taking his pictures.  He also had a different philosophy.  While some photojournalist likes to remove themselves from their subjects Tim always interacted with them to make them more at ease.  Whatever he did it is apparent that he was able to get some great pictures.

This is such a moving portrait of a great man.  It is obvious that Sebastian Junger and Tim became great friends and Sebastian wanted to make a movie tribute to him.  I think he succeeded.  You get the feeling that Tim's career was just taking off.  He just started dabbling in movies and I can't help to think that he would have made some more great documentaries in the future.  His love of the people affected by the war was so immense and he wasn't that adrenaline junkie you get the feeling some war photojournalists are.

This is the second movie I have seen during the festival that deals with photojournalists.  The first one was during the documentary short Eddie Adams: Saigon '68.  It would have been amazing to see these two sit down and discuss what it means to be a photojournalist because I think they had different philosophies.  In the Eddie Adams documentary the big question is can a single picture tell the whole story? While this doc doesn't get into that much there is a clip of Tim saying that no a single picture can not. It is interesting going to a film festival and watching movies about photographs.  But a single shot can convey so much emotion and tell at least part of a story.  I feel I have a new appreciation for photojournalists and will be recommending both movies to my photography loving friends.

Overall:  5 out of 5.  Loved learning more about the man and how he approached his profession.

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