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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Restrepo

Starts April 3

by Karen P.

Acclaimed journalists, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, shadowed the second platoon of Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade from May 2007 to July 2008. The remote outpost they shared was named “Restrepo” in honor of their medic, PFC Juan Restrepo, who was killed in action. The military platoon was stationed in the Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan, an area known as a hot combat zone of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. It was thought to be the most dangerous region of the war because of the frequent influx of Taliban fighters using the area to move in and out of Pakistan, as well as, top Al Qaeda leaders setting up their base operations. On assignment for Vanity Fair Magazine and ABC News, Hetherington and Junger made ten trips to the valley during the course of one year for their story. They lived and breathed a soldier’s life of fear, warfare, boredom and camaraderie which they powerfully document in their feature documentary debut Restrepo.

The journalists captured 150 hours of deployment life from the culmination of trips that always began with the helicopter ride into the firebase of the Korengal Valley. Once on the ground it was at least a two-hour trudge to the Restrepo outpost that was no leisure trek. The journalists noted, “… that some times the outpost was attacked three or four times a day from distances as close as fifty yards away.” The fighting was on foot and extremely dangerous as the zone the Americans moved to control, “hilltop by hilltop, ridge by ridge, a hundred yards at a time” was no safe place. The mountain range was steep and one gained ground only by foot. The filmmakers carried their equipment in addition to the fifty-pound gear requirement on every patrol. Needless to say, the cameras were not unscathed and witnessed their share of war-dings while visually capturing the fallen and wounded with their lenses. The journalists admit that the platoon’s approval and their close relationship only made it possible for them to continue filming in the middle of adversity. A few months after the platoons’ deployment at base camp in Italy, Hetherington and Junger conducted in-depth interviews with their main characters. The film speaks for itself as the men recall their riveting journey. The film audience will forever be changed from the plight of second platoon and will recall it as one of the most moving 94-minutes experienced in one sitting.

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