Tim Hetherington, the British photojournalist who co-directed last year’s Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, has reportedly been killed in Libya, where he’d been covering the ongoing conflict from the city of Misrata. Hetherington’s death was first reported by a colleague, fellow war photographer André Liohn, who broke the news on his Facebook page, saying, “Sad news Tim Hetherington died in Misrata now when covering the front line. Chris Hondros is in a serious status. Michel Brown and Guy are wounded but fine.” Minutes later, Liohn confirmed that Hondros, another Pulitzer Prize-nominated combat photographer, had also died. According to the New York Times, Brown escaped with non-life-threatening shrapnel injuries, but Guy Martin's wounds were considered "grave," and at last report he was undergoing vascular surgery.
Hetherington spent over a year embedded in the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan with journalist Sebastian Junger while on assignment for Vanity Fair, and together the two created Restrepo to document their experiences. In addition to its Academy Award nomination, the film received the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. When The A.V. Club interviewed Junger and Hetherington about the film, Hetherington had this to say about their intentions in making it:
I look at the film and think we made an apolitical film. But in some ways, we’ve also made a film without a moral judgment. For a lot of journalists, that’s hard to do. The funny thing about war is that people feel you need to be morally outraged. I feel morally outraged about it, and I’ve been doing it for long enough to feel morally outraged, because I have been in massacre scenes in West Africa, and I’ve been doing this for a long time now. So I don’t need to have my credentials and go up on the stage and say “Feel moral outrage about the war.” I’m trying to communicate to you what’s going on in the war, and moral outrage really just gets in the way. If you say to an audience, “Who here feels there shouldn’t be war?” I can guarantee everyone would put their hand up, but that doesn’t mean you’re any wiser about why the war’s happening, or what it’s like to be in the war. There are more important things we have to communicate, rather than have the consensus of “Oh, we’re journalists, and we think this is bad.”
As alluded to above, in addition to his work in Afghanistan, Hetherington spent nearly a decade covering various conflicts in West Africa, even working briefly for the United Nations Security Council’s Liberia Sanctions Committee. He also worked as a cinematographer on the Darfur documentary The Devil Came On Horseback, and last year turned the cameras on himself for the documentary short Diary, which IMDB lists as still in post-production. The last known communication with Hetherington was a tweet he made approximately three days ago, saying, “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”