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'Restrepo,' Photo Exhibit Document Dangers of War
by Stephen Becker 10 May 2011

Guest blogger Charles Dee Mitchell previews the documentary Restrepo, which will be shown on Wednesday in conjunction with the war photography exhibition “XXI: Conflicts in a New Century” at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center.


Guest blogger Charles Dee Mitchell is the co-curator of the photography exhibition “XXI: Conflicts in a New Century” at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center.

To make the documentary Restrepo, British photographer Tim Hetherington and the American writer Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm, Fire) were embedded with the Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade during a 14-month deployment in Afghanistan’s Kornegal Valley. The valley is that part of Afghanistan nearest the Pakistan border, and it has proven to be one of the most dangerous outposts for soldiers in the war. Hetherington and Junger lived with the brigade and, according to their director’s statement, filmed the men with this purpose in mind:

“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.”

Restrepo was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Special Jury Prize in Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. We are presenting this free screening of the film at the Texas Theatre as part of the exhibition “XXI: Conflicts in a New Century,” and to honor the life of Tim Hetherington. Hetherington, whose work is included in the exhibition, was killed in Libya on April 20. His death brings home the danger war photographers face every day the world over.

The screening is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff. The event is free, but to reserve a seat please go here.

The exhibition “XXI: Conflicts in a New Century” is at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, next door to the Texas Theatre. It will be open before the screening on Wednesday, and remains at the OCCC through June 6.