[Tim Hetherington, center, at January's Cinema Eye Honors, where he was nominated for Outstanding Production and Audience Choice Prize. Photo by Deneka Peniston.]
This morning, we were devastated to hear the news that Tim Hetherington, the acclaimed war photographer, journalist and Oscar-nominated co-director of RESTREPO, had been killed in Libya earlier today in the besieged city of Misrata. Hetherington was one of four journalists to be hit by a rocket-propelled grenade - at least two others, including Getty photographer Chris Hondros, were gravely injured and clinging to life.
In an interview the day he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, with co-director Sebastian Junger, Hetherington related that a journalist had asked the filmmakers whether being nominated was something they thought about while filming in Afghanistan. Junger replied, "Well, actually the foremost thing in my head was not to get killed."
In December, we spoke to Hetherington and Junger about their work on the film and I asked Junger what he had learned from working with Hetherington:
"I learned a lot. I mean, writers don’t necessarily think in visual terms and, so, Tim was just aware of things. He was just aware of the visual world in a way that I wasn’t. Once there was a very boring afternoon and nothing was happening. There hadn’t been a firefight in a week, everyone was hot and I was just completely zoned out. And everyone was asleep, everyone in the outpost was asleep practically. It was like mid-afternoon nap, just the buzz of flies and that’s it. And Tim was creeping around photographing all the sleeping soldiers. And for me it was the epitome of a moment where nothing was happening, there was no story to record, and Tim was like, “When do you ever see soldiers asleep, nobody ever sees soldiers asleep. This is awesome.” And I realized, oh my God, everything has a value. So, as a result, I wrote a paragraph about what’s it’s like to be at an outpost where everyone’s asleep. And that paragraph’s in the book. So that was just one example of the little ways that we affected each other. And Tim would think really conceptually about things – as a journalist, I think in a kind of linear fashion and Tim would really think conceptually, like what’s the emotional experience out here. He would organize his thoughts in a way that wasn’t linear, it was something else. And that was one of the reasons I divided my book into “Fear”, “Killing” and “Love”. I was trying to figure out a narrative for the book and literally I was like, OK, do like Tim does. Think about it conceptually, not linearly. That’s two of the many things that rubbed off on me."