National Geographic Channel Acquires Global Broadcast Rights to 'Restrepo', Feature-Length Documentary By Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, Chosen for Opening Night Premiere at Sundance
Film Chronicles Deployment of U.S. Troops Stationed at One of the Most Dangerous Outposts in Afghanistan
15-Month Tour of Duty Also Provides Basis for Upcoming Book WAR by Junger, Award-Winning Journalist and Author of THE PERFECT STORM
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 -- National Geographic Channel U.S. and National Geographic Channels International announced today that they have acquired worldwide television rights to Restrepo, which will premiere globally on the network in fall 2010. Chosen as the prestigious opening-night documentary at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Restrepo is a feature-length film by award-winning photojournalist Tim Hetherington and journalist/author Sebastian Junger. The two chronicled the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, focusing on a remote 15-man outpost, Restrepo, considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. Theatrical rights to Restrepo are currently available and being represented by United Talent Agency.
From May 2007 to July 2008, Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade was stationed in the remote Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan, where they built and manned a remote strategic outpost that they named Restrepo in honor of their medic, PFC Juan Restrepo, who was killed in action. Starting in June 2007, Hetherington and Junger dug in with the men of Second Platoon, making a total of 10 trips to the Korengal. Each trip started with a helicopter flight into the valley and then a two-hour foot patrol out to Restrepo. There was no running water at Restrepo, no Internet, no phone communication, and for a while, no electricity or heat. Some days the outpost was attacked three or four times from distances as close as 50 yards. Hetherington and Junger -- sometimes working together, sometimes alone -- did everything the soldiers did except pull guard duty and shoot back during firefights. They slept alongside the soldiers, ate with them, survived the boredom and the heat and the cold and the flies with them, went on patrol with them and eventually came to be considered virtually part of the platoon. By the end of the deployment, they had shot a total of 150 hours of combat, boredom, humor, terror and daily life at the outpost.
Three months after the end of the deployment, Hetherington and Junger traveled to Vicenza, Italy, where the unit is based, to conduct in-depth interviews with their main characters. These interviews -- initially considered a kind of glue for the verite, and a way to avoid outside narration -- wound up being some of the most powerful and affecting material of the entire project. The soldiers were able to allow themselves a level of emotion and introspection that is simply not possible in combat.
Restrepo is an entirely experiential film: The cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. It is the story of a group of men, in their own words, who came to be considered the "tip of the spear" for America's efforts in that area. The film's only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop.
Junger's new book WAR, to be published by Twelve in May 2010, is based on his experiences with the platoon at Restrepo. Through the experiences of these young men, and his own observations and reporting from the battlefield, he shows what it means to fight, to serve and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.
About the Filmmakers:
TIM HETHERINGTON � Producer / Director / Camera
Tim Hetherington is an acclaimed photographer and filmmaker who has reported on conflict for more than 10 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 (Umbrage, 2009). Hetherington is the recipient of four World Press Photo prizes, including World Press Photo of the Year (2008), and an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast Award (2009) for his work in Afghanistan. A native of the U.K., he is based in New York and is a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair Magazine. More information on Hetherington can be found at www.timhetherington.com.
SEBASTIAN JUNGER � Producer / Director / Camera
New York-based writer and journalist Sebastian Junger is the best-selling author of THE PERFECT STORM, FIRE, and A DEATH IN BELMONT. He first reported from Afghanistan in 1996 and, four years later (while reporting for National Geographic), was one of the last Westerners to accompany legendary guerrilla fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud during his war against the Taliban. Junger has reported for Vanity Fair Magazine from many war zones across the world: He was trapped in Monrovia during the Liberian civil war in 2003, caught in Sierra Leone during the civil war of 2000 and briefly held by "oil rebels" in the Niger Delta in 2006. His October 1999 article in Vanity Fair, "The Forensics of War," won a National Magazine Award for Reporting. He has also won an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast Award for his cinematography while embedded with American soldiers for ABC News. Junger's next book, WAR, is about his time in the Korengal Valley with Second Platoon (Twelve, May 2010, www.twelvebooks.com).
Executive producer of Restrepo is John Battsek. Additional information and credits can be found at www.restrepothemovie.com.
National Geographic Channel
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in nearly 70 million homes. For more information, please visit www.natgeotv.com.
National Geographic Channels International
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