You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington

Sebastian Junger's docu "Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?" offers a moving requiem for his "Restrepo" co-director, the late photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington.

With: Tim Hetherington, Alistair Hetherington, Judith Hetherington, James Brabazon, Sebastian Junger, Peter Bouckaert, Chris Anderson, Idil Ibrahim.

Sebastian Junger’s docu “Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?” offers a moving requiem for his “Restrepo” co-director, the photojournalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington, who was killed by shrapnel from mortar fire in Misrata, Libya, in 2011. Featuring Hetherington’s eloquent photographs; interviews with him over the years; visceral video from war zones in Liberia, Afghanistan and Libya; and crisply shot studio footage of his parents, girlfriend, and various colleagues sharing their memories, the film pays tribute to an empathetic man who became a leading chronicler of the world’s trouble spots.

HBO will air the film on April 18, just prior to the second anniversary of Hetherington’s death. The telecast will coincide with the Grove Press publication of “Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer” by Alan Huffman.

Although the pic’s brief running time rules out an in-depth consideration of Hetherington’s entire life, it covers the essentials via an early interview with the man, as well as commentary from his father. Hetherington was the youngest of three kids born to a working-class English family that moved frequently during his youth, giving him a taste for the peripatetic lifestyle he enjoyed as an adult. After studies at Oxford, he traveled in Tibet and India for two years, discovering a passion for photography. At the age of 26, he enrolled in a photojournalism course at Cardiff U., where professors and peers identified him as a true talent, with the capability to work across media formats.

A project documenting young Liberian soccer players, some of whom had been former rebel fighters, first brought Hetherington to West Africa in 1999. He spent the greater part of eight years there, reporting on social and political issues and covering the continent’s civil wars. The pic’s producer James Brabazon recounts with awe Hetherington’s first experience as a war correspondent, during the period when the pair lived behind Liberian rebel lines, the only foreign journalists to do so. Photographs illustrate his story of Hetherington bravely interfering when a commander threatened to shoot the local clinic’s only doctor.

While some photojournalists feel that speaking to the subjects of their photographs compromises the objectivity of their pictures, Hetherington was not among them. Photos and field-video footage show him creating a genuine and immediate bond with elderly fisherman in Sri Lanka, well-dressed tots in India, blind children in Sierra Leone, and the American soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Korengal, Afghanistan, where he shot “Restrepo” with Junger.

As Junger notes, Hetherington was the ideal co-director. His personality, fitness, bravery and work ethic clearly made him beloved by the soldiers, who are shown affectionately teasing him in field footage. The film also acknowledges the toll that Hetherington’s career took on his personal life and health; ironically, at the time of death at age 40, he was planning to start a family with his girlfriend, Somali-American filmmaker Idil Ibrahim.

Production values are topnotch, smoothly blending various moving-image formats and photos. The resonant score by Joel Goodman smartly resists sentiment. A stirring montage of Hetherington’s photos screens under the end credits accompanied by the Irish folk dirge “Danny Boy.”

Popular on Variety

Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington

U.S. - U.K.

Production: An HBO Documentary Films presentation of a Tripoli Street, Goldcrest Films production. (International sales: Goldcrest Intl., London.) Produced by James Brabazon, Nick Quested. Executive producer, Sheila Nevins. Co-producer, Gretchen McGowan. Directed by Sebastian Junger.

Crew: Camera (color, DV, HDV, HD), James Brabazon, Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger, Topaz Adizes, Jake Clennell, Philip Clyde-Smith, Graham Smith, Kristana Textor, Phil Tidy, Jeremiah Zagar; editors, Geeta Gandbhir, Maya Mumma; music, Joel Goodman; sound, Mike Suarez; assistant producer, Sasha Joelle Achilli. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Documentary Premieres), Jan. 21, 2013. Running time: 79 MIN.

With: With: Tim Hetherington, Alistair Hetherington, Judith Hetherington, James Brabazon, Sebastian Junger, Peter Bouckaert, Chris Anderson, Idil Ibrahim.

More Film

  • Climbing Blind

    ‘Climbing Blind’ Snares Kendal Mountain Festival Grand Prize

    KENDAL    “Climbing Blind,” from Alastair Lee, took the Grand Prize at the 2019 Kendal Mountain Festival on Saturday. Detailing the ascent of a vertical rock pillar, the film revealed how a blind mountaineer led the climb, assisted only by a sight-partner a rope length below. The film had particular significance for a British audience, [...]

  • Jon Voight'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' film

    President Trump to Award Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts

    President Trump will present actor Jon Voight, musician Allison Krauss, and mystery writer James Patterson with the national medal of arts. Voight is one of few in Hollywood who has been vocal about his support of President Trump in the past, calling him “the greatest president of this century.” The White House announced four recipients [...]

  • Zack Snyder arrives at the 2018

    'Justice League': Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder Support Release of 'Snyder Cut'

    Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck have taken to social media to request that Warner Bros. release the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Snyder, who helmed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and was “Justice League’s” original director, had to leave production on the film partway through after his daughter died, with Joss [...]

  • Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On?

    Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On? (Column)

    Do we choose sides when we watch “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s brilliant and wrenching drama of divorce? The question, on the face of it, sounds facile in a dozen ways the movie isn’t. Rarely are there winners in divorce, and there are two sides to every breakup. “Marriage Story” is a movie that reflects that [...]

  • The Letter

    IDFA: Kenyan Documentary ‘The Letter’ Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given access to the trailer for Kenyan documentary “The Letter,” by producer-director duo Christopher King and Maia Lekow, which world premieres Nov. 23 at IDFA. The film follows a young man who travels to his grandmother’s rural home when he learns she’s been accused of witchcraft. He soon discovers that the threatening letter she [...]

  • Warner Bros. Box Office

    With 'Good Liar' and 'Doctor Sleep,' Warner Bros.' Box Office Misfortunes Mount

    When Warner Bros. was crafting its 2019 slate, the studio took pains to offer more than just superhero movies. To be sure, there were lots of masked vigilantes too, but more than any of its big studio brethren, Warner Bros. was willing to take a risk on the kinds of thrillers, adult dramas, coming-of-age stories, [...]

  • Constance Wu

    Will Constance Wu Ever Watch 'Hustlers'?

    Despite her leading role, Constance Wu has never seen “Hustlers” and, spoiler alert, it’s very unlikely that she will. Wu explained why she doesn’t want to watch the film to Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” “This is crazy,” Kaling said in the beginning of the interview. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content