News: Sebastian Junger Wins Career Prize

American author, filmmaker, and journalist Sebastian Junger has been awarded The Student Veteran Torchlight Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking by the Florida State University, as part of the institute’s annual Student Veteran Film Festival.

Falling in line alongside Florida State University’s grand plan to be “the most veteran-friendly University in the nation” (according to FSU president Eric J. Barron), the university praised Junger for his sympathetic and uncomfortable insight into the dangers and sacrifices of war, and in particular for his moving account of friend and photojournalist, the late Tim Hetherington, in his most recent documentary: Which Way to the Front Line? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington (released October 2013).

The award is very much in its infancy, having only been presented on Veteran’s day (Remembrance day on this side of the pond) since 2012, making Junger only the second filmmaker to be celebrated in this fashion, following documentary filmmaker and screenwriter Kirby Dick’s inaugural decoration.

Junger is most famous for his 1991 book The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea, and for his collaborative directorial role in 2010’s critically acclaimed Restrepo (trailer featured), with Hetherington. In a speech following his acceptance of the honour, Junger announced his intention to donate the $25,000 cash prize to the charity he founded in direct reaction to Hetherington’s death, RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues), and cited medical ignorance as one of the main reasons his friend and collaborator died.

Junger’s passion and talent lies not in the glorification of conflict, but in the Conrad-esque confinement of horror and danger that war really entails. With his most recent book, War, finding critical success upon its release in 2010, and widespread appreciation of his honouring of the visionary Hetherington, Junger’s is a career to keep an eye on.

Especially refreshing is his nomination for this award and indeed the broader respect for Hetherington; non-combatants are often forgotten when one considers the danger of war and the bravery of those involved.

Fred Johnson

Open Eye Gallery’s exhibition depicting Tim Hetherington’s work and life, You Never See Them Like This, continues until the 24th of November 2013: see our review here

See C James Fagan’s reflective feature on our relationship with warfare here

Posted on 13/11/2013 by thedoublenegative