Remembering Tim Hetherington

Hetherington – whose list of works includes the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo – was killed by shrapnel from a mortar shell on 20 April 2011 while covering the Libyan civil war.

“The influence of Tim’s work is undoubtedly too early to judge, but there’s no doubt Tim’s arrow fell too soon,” said Hetherington’s father Alistair Hetherington, reading a letter written for the event by Art Blundell, who worked with Tim as a UN investigator.

Between the anecdotes and stories, the night was broken up by clips from films that Hetherington worked on and influenced.

James Brabazon, who was Hetherington’s friend and collaborator, produced the film Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington. Speaking at the event, he said:

“There were some things that Tim failed at, and they were glorious, spectacular failures – and we’re all very glad he failed, because after them came truly stunning success.”

The audience laughed when Brabazon mentioned a project Hetherington worked on, to produce a Braille photography book, and another about a narrative feature science fiction film to be set during the war in Afghanistan.

“I think one of the dangers of making films like Which Way is the Front Line From Here? is that in retrospect, someone’s career looks like an inexorable victory march. It looks like every success inevitably follows on from the last success, and you forget actually that that process of creating great, permanent and enduring work, in there, things don’t work out.”

Hetherington’s partner, Idil Ibrahim, spoke to the audience via Skype. She said that when she would often spend time organising and structuring how to potentially execute projects, Hetherington often told her to just get out there and do it.

“One of the key takeaways that he’s kind of left with me in terms of inspiring me and moving forward, is that now instead of saying ‘Why?’ I usually just say ‘Why not?’” she said. “And through the last three years, the journey that I’ve been on, you know, has kind of always started with that question, ‘Why not?’”

Judith Hetherington, Tim’s mother, also spoke at the event. She said not an hour goes by without her thinking of her son. She noted that she has been navigating his business since he died, and she has learned a lot about him through it.

“In honour and in developing Tim’s legacy, we – Alistair and I – have been to many parts of the world, parts that we would not probably have gone to,” she said. “That’s enabled an enormous picture of Tim to open up to us, and we’ve seen a world, a perspective of life I think through Tim’s eyes, and that’s been extremely valuable, and it’s all going to live with me.”

In an interview after the event, Judith Hetherington said she thought it was a thought-provoking evening.

“I hope people have gone away thinking how they can be inspired by Tim’s work,” she said.

Donations can be made to the Tim Hetherington Trust through their website.

You can listen or watch the event here: