Fresh from a screening at the 58th Krakow Film Festival in Poland, Hernan Zin’s film brings powerful, thought-provoking documentary filmmaking to cineastes worldwide.
Zin pulls no punches: for many young men (and not so young) war is one great adrenaline rush. The extreme youth of the American soldiers (18, 20, 23 years old) manning a mortar position in Afghanistan in the film’s opening sequences, as well as the laconic, droll way in which they revel in their unit’s record-scoring use of mortar rounds (2,180 in four months), is immediately arresting.
The setting resembles more a nocturnal summer camp than lethal warfare: wearing shorts and T-shirts and lounging on camp beds, they smoke and joke and occasionally lob a slender bomb designed to kill and main into the night sky.
The film is viewed and framed from the perspective of war correspondents – many of which share that same enthusiasm for combat of the young soldiers. «In war, in a week, you have a condensed life,» Zin says in voice-over. «There is ecstasy, there is fear, there is ethical commitment, there is empathy, but you are not denying the essence of life, which is that everything is arbitrary and ephemeral. That’s very attractive.»
It is a pivotal statement for a film that emerged from Zin’s only personal tragedy: in 2012 he suffered an accident in Afghanistan that changed his life forever. The incident triggered the release of traumas that had been building up over 20 years as a war correspondent.
«A tribute to those who risk their lives for the world to be informed.» – Hernan Zin
Searching for answers as a way out of depression, loneliness and self-destructive behaviours, Zin began to talk to other journalists to discover what impact observing war and suffering had had on them. The result is what Zin claims to be «the first documentary film ever made about the trauma in war reporters.»
The truth of war
Dubbing it a «brutal and torn portrait of war» he says it is «a tribute to those who risk their lives for the world to be informed.»
It’s a moot point whether the world surely knows enough of the suffering war brings, or indeed the degree to which war reporting has become as much a part of the global entertainment industry as Hollywood (where sanitised Technicolor violence is a major, perhaps key ingredient of …
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