WASHINGTON (March 26, 2010)—National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) has acquired the film “Restrepo,” directed, produced and photographed by two award-winning journalists, photojournalist Tim Hetherington and journalist/author Sebastian Junger, for U.S. theatrical distribution.
Winner of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Documentary, “Restrepo” chronicles the deployment of a U.S. platoon of courageous American soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Hetherington and Junger focus on the remote 15-man outpost Restrepo, one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. “Restrepo” is the account of a group of men who came to be considered the “tip of the spear” for America’s efforts in that area.
The film, scheduled for release on July 2, 2010, is the latest in a string of acquisitions for NGE in the last year, including “The Wildest Dream,” “Amreeka” and “Blue Man Group: Mind Blast.”
“Restrepo” is an Outpost Films Production in association with National Geographic Channel. Executive producers are John Battsek and Nick Quested. The editor is Michael Levine.
From May 2007 to July 2008, Hetherington and Junger dug in with a platoon of men from Battle Company, the Second Platoon of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based at Restrepo. Named in honor of the platoon’s medic, PFC Juan “Doc” Restrepo, who was killed in action, “Outpost Restrepo” had no running water, no Internet, no phone communication, often no electricity or heat, and it was attacked as many as five or six times a day.
Hetherington and Junger ate what the soldiers ate, slept where they slept, went on every patrol and by the end had been completely accepted into the platoon. Their cameras never left the Korengal Valley as they shot 150 hours of combat, frustration, routine, jokes, terror and bravery during daily life at the outpost until the men themselves were finally shipped out. The two journalists went on to conduct in-depth interviews with the platoon members back at their home base in Italy.
Second Platoon’s 15-month tour of duty also serves as the basis for a new book by Junger called “War,” which will be published in May 2010 by Twelve, a division of the Hachette Book Group.
Earlier this year National Geographic Channel announced the acquisition of worldwide television rights to “Restrepo,” which will premiere globally on the network in fall 2010.
“‘Restrepo’ tells a truly personal story, allowing us to become participants in what these soldiers do day after day,” said Daniel Battsek, president, National Geographic Films. “Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington have made a great film that pays tribute to these brave men. With National Geographic Films releasing it to theaters this summer and National Geographic Channel airing it on TV in the fall, ‘Restrepo’ represents the synergy of the National Geographic’s different platforms to bring the best in film and journalism to audiences.”
Lisa Truitt, president of National Geographic Cinema Ventures, added, “Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger have made a film unlike any other about men in harm’s way. We see their courage. We experience their frustrations. We share their bonding. We hear the music they listen to, and we see the snapshots of their kids that they pass around. It is something that audiences have never before experienced. As they fight the Taliban, these 15 men win our hearts and minds in a way no fictional film can.”
Tim Hetherington — producer / director / camera — is an acclaimed photographer and filmmaker who has reported on conflict for more than 10 years. He was the only photographer 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. He is a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair magazine.
Sebastian Junger — director / producer / camera — is the best-selling author of “The Perfect Storm,” “Fire” and “A Death in Belmont.” Junger 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 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 also won an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast Award for cinematography while embedded with American soldiers for ABC News.
About National Geographic Entertainment
National Geographic Entertainment combines into a single operating group National Geographic Films, Kids Entertainment, Home Entertainment, National Geographic Cinema Ventures and Music & Radio. In 2005 National Geographic Films co-presented the Academy Award-winning “March of the Penguins.” National Geographic World Films co-presented both the 2004 Oscar-nominated film “The Story of the Weeping Camel,” which received the Director’s Guild Award for best documentary and an Academy Award nomination, and Lu Chuan’s “Mountain Patrol: Kekexili.” National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV) released the 3-D concert film “U2 3D” to critical acclaim, and NGCV set giant-screen box office records with “Mysteries of Egypt” and “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.” Daniel Battsek is president of National Geographic Films, Lisa Truitt is president of NGCV, and Mark Katz is president of NGCV Distribution.
NGE is part of National Geographic Global Media, bringing together all of National Geographic’s editorial platforms to streamline collaboration and support the Society’s mission. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” National Geographic works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 375 million people worldwide each month through magazines, books, digital media, television, radio, music, film and live events. It funds over 250 scientific research, exploration and conservation projects each year and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.