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Academy Awards

09 February 2011


A Cardiff graduate has been nominated for an Oscar in the 83rd Academy Awards for his documentary that captures real life on the frontline in Afghanistan.

Tim Hetherington, a graduate of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies has been nominated in the Documentary (Feature) category for his feature-length film Restrepo.

Directed by Tim along with Sebastian Junger, Restrepo chronicles the deployment of a platoon of US soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, ‘Restrepo’, named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the US military.

The film is entirely experiential: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment.

Speaking about the film, Tim and Sebastian say: "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 are a way to avoid looking at reality. This is reality."

Tim studied the photography element of the Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism Studies in 1996/1997. He is an acclaimed photographer and filmmaker who has reported on conflict for over ten years. He was the only photographer to live behind rebel lines during the recent Liberian civil war – work that culminated in the film Liberia: an Uncivil War and the book Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold. He is the recipient of four World Press Photo prizes and is a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair Magazine.

Dr Daniel Meadows, Lecturer in Photography and Participatory Media at the School and Tim’s former tutor said: "Apart from his bravery, the truly remarkable thing about Tim is that he manages to present his work so successfully to multiple audiences. His story about American soldiers serving on the front line in Afghanistan is an art piece (a three screen multimedia presentation called Sleeping Soldiers which has been widely exhibited in galleries); a World Press Photo winner (2007); a book (Infidel, recently published by Chris Boot); and now a Sundance-winning film documentary (Restrepo) which is also Oscar nominated. He was the first of my students who was truly 'modern'; that is, even back in 1996, he was keen to embrace print, moving pictures and audio while studying to be a photographer. He was always an inspiration to be around. I'm so glad his work is being recognised at last."

The Academy Awards ceremony takes place on 27th February 2011 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

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