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

Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2016 at 09:00 PM

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

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

I often pop into Chapters to see what books catch my attention. Here I Am, a book about the life of Tim Hetherington, jumped out and reminded me that Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?, a film about his life, was on Netflix Canada. After watching about a film a day of Hollywood fluff for the last week, I decided to watch something more thought provoking. Tim Hetherington was a war photojournalist, who died in Libya in 2011. His remarkable life and photographs have captured the imaginations of people across globe.

Two years ago, in Whitehorse I listened to three photographers talk about the nuances of photojournalism. Basically, it’s to capture life, unscripted, as events unfold. In theory the photographer shouldn’t engage with the subjects, which was a marked difference in Tim Hetherington’s style. He loved people and wanted to tell their stories. Photography gave him a way to get out of an office and into the field to document the tumultuous world around him.

Taking pictures in a war zone comes with risks and rewards as his work has been recognized at prestigious festivals such as Sundance and the Oscars, though it eventually cost him his life. It seemed odd to me that he ended up bleeding to death after being hit in the leg from shrapnel. While I understand people are under duress, his friend’s priority should have been to stop the bleeding, not keep him conscious. Your job requires you to go to places where people get shot; maybe having first aid is a good idea. The film’s director, Sebastian Junger, set up a fund to help journalists acquire proper emergency response training to avoid the same thing from happening to someone else. Hopefully, similar programs to help them deal with post-traumatic stress follow.

War is ugly and senseless in so many ways, yet Tim Hetherington wanted to capture hope, instead of gory images. After rebel groups in Africa took to blinding children, he took pictures of the students at a school specifically for them. While filming for Restrepo, he took photos of the young men as they slept, exposing their vulnerability and youth, as well as gave people a peak into the unconditional love and brotherhood men have for each other in wartime. I have heard about this phenomenon before, as it makes it hard for soldiers to integrate back into society. They would rather be back fighting to have that type of camaraderie.

Because Tim worked on so many films, much of the documentary is of him talking about his work and portions of sequences he had filmed, so the viewer has a sense of who he was as person. Because much of it was done chronologically you can see the changes in him from carefree days in India right out of university to a more battle hardened individual. He sought to understand war and the people who fought them. His experimental film Diary attempts to reconcile his two worlds of home and battlefields.

As someone personally involved in social justice issues, you can’t “unsee” things and just have a normal life of home, office, family. Your heart always wants to make a difference whether it’s through awareness or activism. The best depiction of this habit is in the film A Thousand Times Goodnight (2014) with Juliette Binoche. Fictional war photojournalist, Rebecca, knows going back to the front lines will end her family life, yet she makes the choice to witness the people and atrocities of war. In many ways Tim Hetherington made the same choice in 2011, except with harsher consequences that maybe didn’t have to be so harsh. His death has spurred people to take action to educate others to learn how to mitigate dangers in the field, while his photos and video footage will live forever.

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


NOTE: The showtimes listed on CalgaryMovies.com come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to CalgaryMovies.com.