“He took pictures to be seen” – The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington

October 8, 2013

By Pete Ford

Director Sebastian Junger and producer James Brabazon screened Which Way is the Front from Here – The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington, on the 7th October 2013 at the Frontline Club. Tim Hetherington was not only a close friend to both Junger  and Brabazon, but also one of the Club’s founding members and a former speaker. The screening was followed by an emotional and heartfelt Q&A.

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Director Sebastian Junger (left) with James Brabazon. Photo: Pete Ford

According to the HBO synopsis, the film ‘traces Hetherington’s work across the world’s battlefields, to reveal how he transcended the boundaries of image-making to become a luminary in his profession.’

Covering his life from childhood, to self-discovery in India, to finding his photo-journalistic focus in Liberia, to his last moments in Libya, the film is a moving and loving tribute to a close friend of Junger and Brabazon. Using Hetherington’s own footage, it offers an not only an insight into his progression as a journalist, but also into the reasons why did he what he did. As he put it:

“I probe this idea: the who am I, what am I doing?”

In the Q&A session that followed the screening the question of the film’s focus was asked, with Junger replying that:

“I didn’t want it to be a film about Tim’s death. I wanted it primarily to be a film about his incredible life.”

Brabzon said that he saw there being a legacy for this film:

“I have lost count of the number of young photographers who say they got into this because they saw Tim’s work. If the work in this film inspires other people to approach their work in the same way, and the same spirit as Tim did, then for us that is a small success.”

The harrowing footage of Hetherington stepping in to save the life of a suspected spy in Liberia raised the debate on whether a journalist can ever justify participating in the events they are reporting.

Hetherington’s attitude to this is clear throughout the film, with him at one point stating that: “I’m a big white guy, I’m in your country, and for me to pretend otherwise is just stupid”. Brabazon added:

“The point is not whether you are being objective, but whether your work is credible and authentic.”

While Junger has stopped filming in war zones as a direct result of Hetherington’s death, Brabazon reached a “diametrically opposed conclusion…[feeling] somehow that it would be a betrayal of what Tim and I did together, to stop.”

Junger has gone on to found Risc Training – “Reporters instructed in saving colleagues” – as a response to a lack of medical knowledge among frontline reporters.

The film will be released in cinema’s across the UK on 11 October. More information about the film or details about upcoming screenings can be found the Facebook page, and you can view the trailer here: