Restrepo

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Co-directed by journalists Tim Hetherington (“Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold”) and Sebastian Junger (“The Perfect Storm" and the current New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller “War”), “Restrepo” chronicles the one-year deployment of a platoon of American soldiers at Korengal Valley, one of the most dangerous outposts in Afghanistan.

The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. Visceral, immediate and direct, “Restrepo” is an experiential film, in which the cameras never leave the valley. Moreover, it does not rely on talking heads–there are no interviews with generals or diplomats.
 
National Geographic Entertainment will open “Restrepo”, the critically acclaimed winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, on June 25 in New York followed by an LA-area expansion on July 9, and other venues.
 
The methods used help the filmmakers achieve their goal, to make viewers feel as if they have just been through deployment themselves.  From June 2007 to July 2008, Hetherington and Junger embedded with the soldiers of Second Platoon, Battle Company in the remote Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan as they fought to build and maintain a remote 15-man outpost named “Restrepo,” after a platoon medic who was killed in action. By the end of the deployment, they had shot a total of 150 hours of combat, boredom, humor, terror, and daily life at the outpost.
 
Capturing the day-to-day reality of modern warfare as never seen before, the filmmakers avoid all outside commentary and political context to show the reality of war as it is actually lived by soldiers, through their own eyes and in their own words—the backbreaking labor, the deadly firefights, the boredom, the camaraderie.
 
In the press notes, the directors state: “The war in Afghanistan has become highly politicized, but soldiers rarely take part in that discussion. 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. Beliefs can be a way to avoid looking at reality.”
 
The directors made a total of ten trips to the Korengal on assignment for Vanity Fair Magazine and ABC News. Each trip started with a helicopter flight into the main firebase in the valley and then a two-hour foot patrol out to Restrepo. There was no running water at Restrepo, no Internet, no phone communication, and for a while, there was no electricity or heat; it was essentially just sandbags and ammo.
 
On some days, the outpost was attacked three or four times from distances as close as fifty yards. Working together, or alone, they did everything the soldiers did, except pull guard duty and shoot back during firefights. They slept alongside the soldiers, ate with them, survived the boredom and the heat and the cold and the flies with them, went on patrol with them, and eventually came to be considered virtually part of the platoon.