Already set to air on the National Geographic Channel in November, the Afghanistan doc Restrepo, winner of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival documentary grand jury prize, has also been acquired by National Geographic Entertainment. Under new president Daniel Battsek, National Geographic Films will release the film in theaters this July with an emphasis on reaching out to military families, something that the filmmakers, Vanity Fair contributors Tim Hetherington (a British photographer and cinematographer) and journalist Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm), had fervently hoped would happen.
A long-term awards campaign is also in the works. (See my Sundance video interview below.)
From May 2007 to July 2008, Hetherington and Junger visited the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan ten times, five each and shot 150 hours of footage. The two men held their own with a battle company of 15 U.S. soldiers in the toughest Afghanistan mountain terrain. The film takes us close to what men at war really go through, suffer and lose. The footage shows a platoon of army soldiers under almost constant attack from Taliban fighters in the mountains who they never see—until one horrific campaign. That’s when the filmmakers shot footage of a slain soldier which ended up on ABC News. You’ve never seen fighting like this. Ever.
Junger’s new book War, based on his experiences with the platoon at Restrepo, is set to be published by Twelve in May 2010.