British journalist Tim Hetherington, who co-directed and photographed the award-winning documentary Restrepo died today in Misrata, Libya. While making the film, Hetherington and his co-director Sebastian Junger worked closely with U.S. troops in an isolated and dangerous outpost in Afghanistan over an extended period of time. Restrepo won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar. Hetherington was 41.
Tim Hetherington, best known for co-directing the Oscar-nominated documentary on the Afghanistan war “Restrepo,” was killed in Libya on Wednesday while covering the conflict as a photojournalist for Panos Pictures, according to one of his other employers, Vanity Fair magazine.
Along with Hetherington, the New York Times reports three other journalists were wounded in the same incident: Chris Hondros, working for Getty photo agency; Guy Martin, working for Panos also; and Michael Christopher Brown, who has worked as a freelancer for several large publications.
Hondros and Martin were said to have grave wounds, and may not survive, the Times reports.
The day before he died, Hetherington tweeted: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”
Hetherington, one of the best known photojournalists and winner of the prestigious Dupont Award, produced powerful pieces for ABC News’ “Nightline” from the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, and directed the documentary “Restrepo,” which was nominated for an Academy Award.
“Tim was one of the bravest photographers and filmmakers I have ever met,” said ABC News’ James Goldston, who worked closely with Hetherington as executive producer of “Nightline.”
“During his shooting for the Nightline specials he very seriously broke his leg on a night march out of a very isolated forward operating base that was under attack. He had the strength and character to walk for four hours through the night on his shattered ankle without complaint and under fire, enabling that whole team to reach safety.”
Hetherington was embedded with the Army unit in Afghanistan when Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta put his life on the line to save his comrades. Giunta later became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.
RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military.
And from the “directors’ statement”:
Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives: we did not sit down with their families, we did not interview Afghans, we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one’s political beliefs.
UPDATE: American photojournalist Chris Hondros has died of wounds from the same attack in which Tim Hetherington died.
The Washington Post has put up a gallery of Hondros’ work.