Visions: Tim Hetherington’s Theater of War

Visions: Tim Hetherington’s Theater of War

Visions: Images of Libya from a Fallen Photographer

Last week, an upcoming gallery show of work by the late photographer Tim Hetherington was announced, the inaugural exhibition of The Bronx Documentary Center that was founded earlier this year. The exhibition, titled Visions, is a collection of never-before-seen photos by Hetherington, a British-American photographer who lived in Brooklyn. He was a longtime Vanity Fair contributor who died in April while covering the conflict in Libya, along with fellow conflict photographer and Brooklyn resident Chris Hondros.

It is amazingly ironic that the announcement of the exhibition of Tim Hetherington’s work coincided precisely with published reports that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the erratic, provocative dictator who ruled Libya for 42 years, had finally met a violent and vengeful death in the hands of the Libyan forces that drove him from power.

Hetherington was most famous for his Academy Award-nominated 2010 documentary Restrepo, which he filmed with Sebastian Junger in 2007. The film follows the Army platoon assigned to what was then the most dangerous posting in Afghanistan, The Korengal Valley, to clear it of insurgents and gain the trust of the local populace. In the course of the film, the platoon builds a new outpost they name after Juan Sebastian Restrepo, a comrade who was killed during the early days of the 15-month assignment.

On April 20, Hetherington was trailing rebels in the besieged coastal city of Misurata in Libya, when he and Hondros were killed in an explosion from a rocket-propelled grenade. He left behind 40 rolls of undeveloped 220mm film. The negatives revealed a fascinating mix of what Tim called “the theater of war,” men strutting with their guns, as well as landscapes, graffiti, and men firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades in battle. And a vase of plastic flowers in a bullet-marked room. Seventeen of the prints will be on display in the Bronx Documentary Center show as 36- by 30-inch prints hanging from the ceiling on two large wood panels, beginning October 22nd.

Tim Hetherington: Always a Few Steps Ahead

Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold

Award-Winning Photographer and Film Director Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

The Death of Award-Winning Photographer Tim Hetherington

Oscar-nominated documentary-maker Tim Hetherington, co-creator of the Sundance-winning documentary Restrepo, was killed in the besieged city of Misurata covering fighting between Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and the opposition. A British citizen who lived in New York, Hetherington had covered conflicts with sensitivity in Liberia, Afghanistan, Darfur and, in recent weeks, Libya. Hetherington was in Libya to continue his multimedia project highlighting humanitarian issues during times of war and conflict.

Photo-journalist Chris Hondros, a US Pulitzer finalist who worked for Getty Images, was also killed. Hetherington and Hondros were among eight to 10 journalists reporting from Tripoli Street in Misrata. When shooting broke out, they took shelter against a wall, which was hit by fire. Hetherington died soon after arriving at hospital. Hetherington wrote in his last post on Twitter on Tuesday: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Gaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

Restrepo won the 2010 Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance, and was a 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Documentary, Features. The movie is a stunning chronicle of one U.S. platoon, which was posted in one of the most dangerous valleys in Afghanistan. The film was made as part of Hetherington’s ongoing mission to bring the hardships of war into the public eye.

Diary is one of Hetherington’s most recent works, a documentary short film that presents a dreamlike composition of insightful juxtapositions about his war experiences, composed of carefully conceived montages and almost inchoate sounds. It is similar in spirit to his impressionistic documentary short Sleeping Soldiers of 2009.

Viewers can read more about Tim Hetherington in The New York Times here.

Restropo: 2011 Nominated Oscar Best Documentary, Features (Trailer)

Tim Hetherington’s Disquieting ‘Diary

Tim Hetherington: Sleeping Soldiers

Photo-Gallery: Visions/Tim Hetherington’s Theater of War

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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Explicit Photographs Released of American Soldiers Murdering Afghan Civilians

Explicit Photographs Released of American Soldiers Murdering Afghan Civilians

Shocking photographs were released this week of American soldiers murdering Afghan civilians. Three photographs, published by the German magazine Der Spiegel in its March 20th print edition, show members of the self-designated “Kill Team” comprised of United States Army soldiers who are accused of making a sport of killing innocent Afghans, as they show off one of their victims in a kind of trophy photo; another photograph shows two Afghan civilians who appear to be dead. The Army had tried to keep the photos from going public, especially since anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan is already high.

Five of the soldiers involved in the killings are now facing court martial proceedings for the deaths of three, unarmed Afghan civilians. Seven other members of their unit are accused of lesser crimes. The men are accused of faking combat situations to justify killing randomly chosen Afghans with grenades and guns. The case came to light after one of the soldiers informed military investigators about the killings; he was then beaten so severely by other members of the unit for betraying them that he had to be hospitalized.

The photographs are reminiscent of the torture and humiliation suffered by Iraqis at the hands of American troops in the Abu Ghraib prison, which came to light in the spring of 2004. However, there were dozens of those pictures and they clearly showed the victims’ faces, making their pain all the more apparent. That case reverberated across the Muslim world in ways that this case has yet to do, in part because of the absence of photographs. The release of these images threatens to change that.

Read more about these atrocities in the New York Times here.

Update:

Rolling Stone has just released a special report on the U.S. Army’s self-proclaimed “kill team,” whose members are currently on trial for murdering Afghan civilians. The report includes new photographs and videos from the cache that was partially leaked to Der Spiegel last week.

“Kill Team” Soldiers Tell of Civilian Murders and Cover-Ups

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An Angry Obama Relieves Runaway General McChrystal of Command

An Angry Obama Relieves Runaway General McChrystal of Command

An angry President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal from his position as Commander of American forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and named as his replacement the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.  President Obama said he had done so because an article in Rolling Stone featured contemptuous quotes from the general and his staff about senior administration officials, threatening to erode trust among administration and military officials, as well as to undermine civilian control of the military.

War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president,” President Obama said.  “As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for our national security.”  “I welcome debate among my team,” he said, “but I won’t tolerate division.”

President Obama Relieves General Stanley McChrystal of Command

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The Runaway General: Gen. McChrystal Summoned to Washington Over Remarks

The Runaway General: Gen. McChrystal Summoned to Washington Over Remarks

President Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan was flown to Washington on Tuesday to find out whether he will be fired, after an article in Rolling Stone quoted him and his staff members speaking critically of top members of President Obama’s team.

With the war effort faltering, the comments by General Stanley McChrystal illustrated the disarray and spitefulness that exists among the Afghanistan team, as well as the tensions between the president and the military.  In the magazine article, General McChrystal or his aides spoke derisively of Vice President Biden, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, National Security Adviser General James L. Jones, Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and even President Obama himself.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to say outright whether General McChrystal would lose his position.  Gibbs questioned the general’s judgment, calling the comments an “enormous mistake,” adding that military parents need to know that “the structure where they’re sending their children is one that is capable and mature enough in prosecuting a war as important as Afghanistan.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal Summoned to Washington Over Remarks

White House Calls Back General McChrystal

President Obama Comments on  General McChrystal

Read the full article The Runaway General in Rolling Stone here.

Read more about reactions to General McChrystal’s remarks in The New York Times here.

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Road to Moloch: Into the Horrifying Cave of Ancient Evil Incarnate

Road to Moloch: Into the Horrifying Cave of Ancient Evil Incarnate

Well we know where we’re goin,
But we don’t know where we’ve been,
And we know what we’re knowin,
But we can’t say what we’ve seen.

Road to Moloch is a supernatural action-horror short film by filmmaker Robert Glickert.  In recent times, not surprisingly, there have been a number of feature-length horror films set in contemporary war hot-spots, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But what those films set out to do in 90-odd minutes, Glickert’s Road to Moloch manages to accomplish in 16-minutes, and with considerable force.  While on a mission to locate three missing American soldiers, a team of reconnaissance marines encounters a blood-spattered Iraqi stumbling through the desert.  After following the distraught man into the depths of an insurgent cave, the marines make some horrifying discoveries that bring them face-to-face with what may be the home of ancient evil incarnate.  Playing around with the cliches of action and horror movies, Road to Moloch manages to be a highly entertaining piece of filmmaking, if you can withstand the splatter and carnage.

Road to Moloch: Into the Horrifying Cave of Ancient Evil Incarnate

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Obama Arrives in Iraq after Talks with Afghan President

Barack Obama Meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai

On Sunday, the second day of Barack Obama’s high-profile foreign trip, Obama met with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at his palace in the Afghan capital. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged steadfast aid to Afghanistan in talks with its Western-backed leader Sunday and vowed to pursue the war on terror “with vigor” if he is elected, an Afghan official said.

Mr. Obama also received support from an unexpected corner. Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki told a German magazine that he endorsed the Obama plan to withdraw most American troops in a gradual timeline of 16 months. The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki’s comments by The International Tribune: “Obama’s remarks that, if he takes office, in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.”

In addition, Senator Obama gave his first overseas interview. Obama told CBS News’ reporter Lara Logan that the situation in Afghanistan is “precarious and urgent.” With violence rising from the resurgent Taliban, Obama stated that two or three more troop brigades need to be moved into the country. Obama also declared his belief that Afghanistan needs to be the “central focus, the central front on the battle against terrorism.”

Television Interview with Obama in Afghanistan

Obama Arrives in Iraq to meet with the Iraqi Prime Minister

A U.S. Embassy official has confirmed Barack Obama’s arrival in Iraq, where he has met with U.S. commanders and troops in a war he has long opposed. On Monday morning, the Democratic presidential contender met with Gen. David Petraeus, as well as with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama in Iraq: Meets with Iraqi Prime Minister

Obama Meets with Maliki in Iraq

You can read my earlier report on the first two days of Obama’s world trip here.

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Barack Obama’s Foreign Mission: Hope and Cautions

Barack Obama’s Foreign Mission: Hope and Cautions

Obama Sets Off on His Foreign Tour

Senator Obama’s overseas trip is scheduled to have him make visits to the Middle East, Germany, France and England. His trip began covered by a shroud of secrecy, which advisers said was due to security concerns set forth by the Secret Service. A motorcade left Sen. Obama’s home in Chicago’s Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhood at 11:11 a.m (local time) on Thursday morning, heading for Chicago’s Midway Airport. From Midway, a Gulfstream III executive jet took off for Washington’s Reagan National Airport carrying Obama, the senior Obama spokesperson, two reporters and eight Secret Service Agents.

About 85 minutes later, the plane landed at Reagan, and Obama’s motorcade traveled from there to Andrews Air Force Base. At Andrews, Obama entered an aircraft that had no markings, with the exception of an American flag on the tail. Mark Lippert, a foreign policy advisor to Obama in his Washington office, Senators Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel were on the plane when it took off from Andrews Air Force Base shortly after 3 p.m. (ET). No reporters accompanied him on the plane to Afghanistan.

Obama at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan

Obama Sets Off on His Foreign Mission

Obama Arrives in Afghanistan

Senator Barack Obama made a secret stop in Kuwait, visiting with U.S. servicemen there, and then flew on to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he arrived early Saturday morning. He would open his first overseas trip as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee by meeting with American military commanders there (and later in Iraq) to receive an on-the-ground assessment of military operations in the two major U.S. war zones.

Mr. Obama touched down in Kabul at 3:15 a.m. Eastern time, according to a pool report released by his aides. In addition to attending briefings with military leaders, he hoped to meet with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan before flying to Iraq later in the weekend. His advisers said that Mr. Obama had chosen to begin his trip in Afghanistan because he believes that the region is among the most important foreign policy challenges facing the United States.

It is the first trip to Afghanistan for Mr. Obama, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Obama has said he wants to send two additional U.S. combat brigades, about 7,000 troops, to Afghanistan. He has advocated reducing the U.S. force in Iraq so that troops can be redeployed to Afghanistan to quell the threat from al-Qaeda operatives and their supporters in the resurgent Taliban movement.

Obama has also accused his Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, of waffling aboout whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, criticizing the decorated Vietnam war veteran for voting to go to war in Iraq and saying the loss of focus on the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has been a “grave mistake.”

Security in the Afghan capital was noticeably tighter Saturday, but Obama’s visit was little known and little remarked upon in the streets of the city.

Senator Obama’s Trip to Afghanistan

Europe Pins Its Hopes on Obama

In some ways, Obama’s high-profile foreign mission has all the trappings of a major rock-star tour. Public opinion polls in Europe have continued to show that Obama is by far the candidate that most Europeans would like to see succeed George W. Bush in the November elections. With his visit, the presumptive Democratic nominee is recreating the kind of public whirlwind that he enjoyed at the height of the Democratic primaries, only now it’s on a grand global scale. Some European observers are describing Obama as Europe’s greatest hope.

Obama: Europe’s Greatest Hope

This Posting Will Be Updated With Photographs and Video Each Day During Obama’s Foreign Tour.

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