Review: Which way is the front line from here?

Last updated 12:00 31/07/2013
Tim Hetherington
ON DUTY: Tim Hetherington while on assignment for Vanity Fair Magazine at Restrepo outpost in Afghanistan.

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One of the early scenes of the documentary Which way is the front line from here? is a case of life imitating art.

We see the scene through the video lens of photojournalist Tim Hetherington, starting with the dashboard of a 4WD, a grenade in the cup holder and the sound of the Bee Gees' How Deep Is Your Love softly playing on the car stereo. The camera pans around the vehicle showing the local Libyan driver, and Hetherington's fellow passengers, all foreign media.

Soon they are driving down the road in Misrata and the devastation from the 2011 Civil War is plain to see. I was immediately struck by the similarity of the scene to one from David O Russell's film The Three Kings, with the characters seemingly serenely driving in high end cars to the easy listening sounds of Chicago's If You Leave Me Now playing in the car as they head into a fire fight in the Iraqi desert.

The levity of this opening scene is tinged with sadness as it is in Misrata, presumably not long after this footage was shot, that Hetherington and fellow passenger and photojournalist Chris Hondros are both killed and another from the vehicle, Guy Martin, is severely wounded.

The film is firmly focused on Hetherington, who he was, what he did and why he did it. From a young child to teenager through to the man he was we find out what motivated him and what drew him to covering wars and the people that the conflicts affected on both sides.

What struck me was how he seemed to want to connect with his subjects rather than simply standing by and observing.

From a UK accident and emergency clinic, Sri Lanka, Liberia, to being imbedded with American Armed Forces in the Korangal Valley, Afghanistan - the film covers a wide body of his work. It also features commentary from Hetherington himself, including a candid introduction to the film itself from past interview outtakes, his family, his photo subjects and colleagues.

Directed by Hetherington's friend and colleague Sebastian Junger (writer of The Perfect Storm and with whom Hetherington partnered on the Award Winning Documentary Restrepo) it was a deeply touching film that I would definitely recommend seeing.

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