GofG Exclusive With Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington

by Cailey Hall · January 12, 2011

For Vanity Fair contributors Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, the glitz of the National Board of Review Awards red carpet may seem light years away from a remote Army outpost in Afghanistan. But navigating between these two worlds is all part of the job for these two.Or so they said last night at the awards, held at Cipriani 42nd St.

Humans are really adaptable and if you can adapt to combat, you can adapt to this," Junger explained. "It just takes a few weeks."

Junger and Hetherington showed up at the ceremony to accept the Best Directorial Debut award for their joint effort in creating the gripping documentary "Restrepo." The duo spent a year as embedded reporters with a U.S. Army platoon stationed in Afghanistan’s Korangal Valley, an area that became known as the “Valley of Death.”

As a huge fan of the soldier music video Internet meme, I had to ask what they thought of the phenomenon. Hetherington offered a thoughtful reply:

A friend of mine’s grandfather once told me that war is the only place that society allows men to show true love for one another. I think what you’re seeing out there is true affection between the guys. I don’t think there’s anything homosexual or heterosexual about it. I think that kind of sexuality wasn’t there. It’s about men together – it was a brotherhood. Society tries to sanitize war and therefore dehumanize it by talking about Apache-type helicopters or missiles and tanks being the war machine, but the reality is the war machine is: take a group of young men, train them together and put them on the side of the of a mountain, and they will all kill and be killed for each other. And there’s something very human and something that we back home need to see and digest and understand because we’re sending these young men out there.”

Restrepo seems a shoo-in for at least a Best Documentary Feature Oscar nomination, if not an outright win. Junger and Hetherington appear truly grateful for the opportunity to tell the soldiers’ stories without taking political sides. Junger ignored speculation about the award fanfare and stuck with a boiler plate assessment:

If they [the U.S] pull out too quickly, civilians are going to die because the country will collapse. I think we can all agree that’s not a good thing.”

[Images via Restrepo]