Restrepo Pipped To The Gong By Inside Job

Alas Restrepo didn’t win the Oscar last night but they didn’t lose either. Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington have made a superb film documenting a harrowing deployment in Afghanistan. They brought a much greater awareness of the conflict to the world. Thank you to them for their sacrifice and commitment. But the war is not over for us, and as the Oscar bus party bus packs up for another year, the families and serving are still on the conveyor belt of war – the battle continues on.

Inside Job won it – a film about the most recent economic crash.

On the Restrepo facebook page they ask for us to write three words which illustrate how the film made you feel:

Make It Stop

Peace And Love

Can’t Take Anymore

Find A Solution

Daddy Is Sad

Stop The Killing

Please Help Us

Enough Is Enough

I need the war to end. The burden is too heavy. I am very tired and I am not alone. I would like to get off the bus please but alas for us that is not to be because the bus leaves again this year and we will be firmly on it…

http://restrepothemovie.com/

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Sebastian Junger Talking To Hollywood

Today, was definitely the highlight of my blogging life. In fact, maybe my literary life. I got to hang out for 40 minutes in my cupboard, with Sebastian Junger. It was brilliant. I am still buzzing. He’s such a top bloke. He wasn’t actually in my cupboard, I managed to hook him up on Skype, and we did a live video interview. The sound quality and picture quality is a hardly HD but what the hell, I got to chat with him in person.

In the build up, I had been digging pretty deep into his bio. I had watched lots of interviews. He was a fairly steely faced guy and he didn’t really relax much. Now, I am not a political journalist, who is cutting her teeth in Fleet St. I am a military wife (ahem – military spice is what I accidentally referred to myself in one of the segments instead of spouse – but actually I have no problem being a military spice – I like to think of myself as nutmeg and cloves with a dash of chilli) who is writing about what it’s like being betrothed to the military, therefore all of my Restrepo interviews have really focused on the soldiers and not the geo-politics of Afghanistan. This interview was no exception. I basically bungle through it. Look, I don’t think The One Show will be calling me anytime soon. There are a few toe curling moments but what can I say he does release a fair amount pheremone, even over VOIP!!

In part 4 – I manage to nail an exclusive – Sebastian is in discussions over the film rights to War. He is fairly confident it will happen.

I knew from the minute that I saw the documentary that Hollywood would get their hands on it and then it would really catapult into the conscience of the world.

On the 18th October 2010 I wrote:

In The Times, on 3rd October, the Afghanistan correspondent, Tom Coghlan wrote an article on the film, and in The Sunday Times, journalist doyen, Christina Lamb interviewed the legend that is Sebastian Junger, whilst The Observer, celebrated the artistic perspective of the British born director, Tim Hetherington. Meanwhile, in the backwater of the British military swamp of rural Hampshire, blogger and wife of Chinook pilot, A Modern Military Mother aka Clare Macnaughton, interviewed from her cupboard for an office in her military quarter, one of the real stars of the film Major Dan Kearney.

Restrepo, is to some extent pre-hype and once the ball starts rolling and it wins the predicted Oscar, Hetherington and Junger will be heralded as journalistic literati greats by those who themselves hanker for the same legendary status and notoriety.

Eventually, Restrepo will be made into an Hollywood blockbuster, just like The Perfect Storm and soon over paid actors will immortalise the underpaid soldiers that appeared in the documentary. Undoubtedly, the actors will be applauded and awarded for their execution of realism.

Junger and Hetherington have created a brave and iconic piece of filmic history and they absolutely should be celebrated but whilst they flew in and out of the outpost, in the heart of bandit country, in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan, Maj Dan Kearney was there for the whole 18 months, isolated by his rank and battling an aggressive brutal enemy, trying to achieve a nigh on impossible task. He and the men of Restrepo are the true stalwarts of the film and whilst the literati celebrate the work of their own, it is these men who are the ones that had their feelings stripped from their souls, who continue to work in their underpaid roles and continue their normal lives.

Yes, folks you heard it here first. War is going to be turned into a Hollywood movie!!

Here’s my dream cast so far:

Maj Dan Kearney – Matt Damon
Sgt Brendan O’Byrne – Jason Statham
Sebastian Junger – George Clooney
Tim Hetherington – Daniel Craig

Just as an aside – Sebastian Junger is hot but in my humble opinion Tim Hetherington is hotter but maybe I just don’t go for that older guy.

All of you Restrepo fans – what’s your dream cast?

(Also I just wanted to say thank you to my new BFF Licky who made this interview happen. That hottie Tim Hetherington was rubbish and didn’t set me up as he promised, plus he didn’t give me any insider questions. Fortunately, I was able to lure Brendan O’Byrne into my lair and after some ferocious tugging on his little back hair tuft he sang like a canary. Proving it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Thanks guys, and also to Lord Junger, himself, it was an honour and a privilege. I am still flushed!)

The Restrepo Trilogy – the ultimate gift for him this Christmas. Boys and men will love it. It’s not a girl film really but you do get to see fit blokes pumping iron and men being men in a male way, which is not unpleasant. AND it raises awareness of a conflict that should no longer be ignored.

DVD – released 29th November

War by Sebastian Junger

Infidel by Tim Hetherington

Big Apple – Be Warned!!

Start spreading the news…….I am not leaving today, or entirely sure when, or what exactly is going on but Mrs Bowes Lyon (yes, Prince Albert that is my friend who is the better looking version of Sarah Jessica Parker!) and me are heading over to…NEW YORK!

To be honest the plans are a bit sketchy; but we have time to work it out.

1.) Any hotels in New York want to showcase their wares then get in touch?
2.) Any New York restaurants want to give us the star treatment then drop me a line?
3.) Any swanky cocktail bars want to fill us with liquor?
4.) Any clubs want us to come and shake our booty (Mrs Bowes-Lyon is an 80s fiend – we are not entirely musically compatible)?
5.) Any spas want to anoint us?

I’ll happily pimp New York because I love it.

The first time I visited New York, I was a student, and during the Christmas holidays I had agreed to nanny for a family, who were so desperate for a nanny that they didn’t balk at the idea of employing me, a completely unqualified child carer, because their professionally qualified nanny had bailed on them and their trip at the 11th hour. Yes, it was in the black and white days, before it all became all proper. They were in luck, despite me being a gob-shite, feminist, I actually intended no harm to the little darlings. Well, not before the trip anyway.

The trip was 4 nights in The Watergate Hotel, Washington, 6 nights in the Polynesia resort, Disneyland, Florida and 3 nights in The Warldorf Astoria, New York. I thought the nanny was mad – why would anyone turn down this trip of a lifetime? I was being paid £200 per week, plus all expenses.

He was a partner at city Professional Services firm and she was a Barrister. They had two young kids. It wasn’t long into the trip it became patently obvious why the nanny had bailed because they were a fricking nightmare! The kids were spoilt beyond all control, and simply didn’t do as they were told. As a nanny, I discovered you are not actually allowed to punish other people’s children. Regardless, of how vilely they behaved. Fortunately, I was fairly adept at using Jedi mind tricks to get them to do my bidding.

He just wanted to spend time with his wife, and she was trapped between the two – her husband’s demands and her childrens. To add to the complications – he was a complete control freak, and despite her earning the best part of £80,000 per year, she was only allowed a cheque book and no plastic – not even a debit card!! I actually as an impoverished student had more disposable cash available to me, which he hated because it meant he couldn’t stop me doing whatever I wanted when I was allowed some free time.

I had a fairly blinkered life, and although I definitely harbour delusions of grandeur, I had at that time no intelligence of where the deluded grand hang out. I had never heard of The Watergate Hotel, or in fact, The Waldorf Astoria. After a fairly turbulent 10 days of torture by the rude, wealthy and arrogant smug git of a father, a marathon of Barney the Dinosaur – alas he is still not extinct; but my own children do not chant his name with the same moronic fanatacism of the wards I was responsible for back then, and the wife dithering around try to placate the nightmare; we arrived at JFK airport to be collected by a vulgar, but kinda cool, stretch limo. We were whisked off to the incredibly impressive Waldorf Astoria, which I discovered to be a fairly upmarket hotel – I may be understating the opulence a little. In the afternoon, the snow began to fall and fall and fall and fall. In fact, unbeknownst to me at the time I was being impacted by what is now referred to as ‘The Blizzard of 1996’.

[The Blizzard of 1996 was a severe nor’easter that paralyzed the U.S. East Coast with up to 4 feet (1.2 m) of wind-driven snow from January 6 to January 8, 1996.]

Our flights were canceled. There was not a single crime committed in New York for a 24 hour period. We were stranded. In the morning, the mother, who, by now, was at the end of her tether, gave in to her children and allowed them to have chocolate ice cream and full fat Coca Cola for breakfast!!! Following this ingenius and inspired idea, she then very deftly excused herself and retired for the day to massage the ego, or penis, of her very petulant husband. Of course, leaving me holed up in a small room with twin doubles, and two children under 7, who immediately went mental from the sugar that was coarsing through their veins. They literally climbed the curtains and scratched the wallpaper off the walls. In the end, I locked myself in the bathroom, and phoned my flatmate. It was that posh that there were phones in the loo. (Not actually the WC!) I distinctly remember the conversation, I said;

“I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth because I am sat in the Warldorf Astoria in New York but right now I would rather be in Plymouth!’

(I was at Uni in Plymouth)

This experience also introduced me to the agony of 24hour news reporting in a manner that could only occur in the USA. Let’s face once you have seen one snowflake you have seen them all.

“Ok we are going live to Bob in Brooklyn. So Bob what’s going on with you down there in Brooklyn?”

“Well Bob! It’s snowing here fairly hard, which means that there is a lot of snow falling here and it’s fairly snowy. Back to you in the studio.”

Please repeat for every district with a 500 mile radius of Manhattan for every second of every day for 24 hours. It was riveting.

On the bright side, I we did manage to pop out to a chemists over the street. In this chemist, I bumped into none other than Whoopi Goldberg!! How cool is that, and in fact, because she is American, and like all Americans will talk to anyone (and not an emotionally repressed Brit like myself, who would only ever engage anyone in conversation unless that actually needed something, like directions to the loo) she asked me whether she should buy chewing gum with sugar, or sugar free. I felt under the extreme weather conditions that we were experiencing that she could probably handle the sugar fix. Of course, being British and a bit embarrassed, I didn’t say anything else, or even identify that I recognised that she was Whoopi Goldberg, or even ask for her autograph!! Talk about a missed moment!

Eventually, the snow cleared and I was released from the agony. I did still manage to fall in love with New York, but whether I will ever be able to afford to stay at The Waldorf Astoria is another thing – unless of course they want to offer Mrs Bowes-Lyon and I a free room!!

Anyway, we are really up for it – so if there is any particular New York experience that Mrs Bowes-Lyon and I should add into our itinerary then we want to know about it.

Where should we go? What should we do?

New York we are ready to be seduced – come find us and show us a good time.

Email me at: amodernmilitarymother@gmail.com

Three Milly Mums Restrepo Screening

14 days ago, Steph, Faith and I decided f*ck it we were going to become Dogwoof Film Ambassadors because we wanted to see if we could make a success of bringing the film Restrepo to the military and local community. We liked the idea of being involved in a franchise business that was about film. Steph had a media background in a previous life, I studied film as part of my BA hons at university, and Faith, had just successfully grown, and deployed into full time education, two children and was up for something to do other than cleaning her pots and pans. All three of us love film. In fact, it has always been a huge part of my life since I was child. I was an avid watcher of the black and white films on a Saturday morning on BBC 2. I fell in, school girl, love with Dirk Bogarde – one of my biggest life disappointments was when I learned that he was gay. Why are the best looking men always gay?

In the 10 days to promote the screening:

1.) We plugged it mercilessly on The Army Rumour Service

2.) We dropped 500 flyers into the letterboxes of military homes

3.) I did an interview with BBC Sussex

4.) I did an interview with Garrison FM

5.) Bad CO very generously donated an advertising linky on the top page that had over 800 click throughs

6.) We put posters up at as many garrisons and messes that we could get into

7.) We advertised in some of the internal newsletters

8.) We texted and emailed people we knew

9.) It was promoted on the ARRSE newsletter

10.) We even managed to get it on the Defence Intranet

11.) We sent a press release to over 400 media, defence, news and local.

12.) we put posters up everywhere

We needed a 100 to break even.

In the end we sold 91 tickets. I think we were down a couple of quid each but we all agreed it was worth it for the experience. If Restrepo gets nominated for an Oscar, or even wins an Oscar, I would love to do another Ambassador screening at the Farnham Maltings. Even though the DVD will have been released it still really needs to be seen on the big screen to be appreciated.

The screening was last night at the Farnham Maltings and I am delighted to say it was a success. The live skype link up with Tim Hetherington, the co-director was a bit sketchy, but it was a genuine and authentic introduction from the big man himself. Thank you to Tim for taking the time out of his day to link up with our screening.

This is what the audience thought:

Here is my Restrepo journey so far:

Sometime in July I reviewed War by Sebastian Junger for the ARRSE Book Club

August 10th – I was invited to a preview of Restrepo

August 18th – I reviewed the film in my blog post Men and War

September 25th – I was in the midst of chaos working out how to interview Maj Dan Kearney

October 3rd – I somehow, with a lot of Red Bull inside me, at 2am, interviewed the straight talking and super cool, Maj Dan Kearney and then worked out how to edit and upload the interview

October 6th – I went to meet and interview the delicious Mr Tim Hetherington esquire with a snipsy hangover.

October 8th – I attended the launch of Indfidel by Tim Hetherington and blogged very emotionally about whether women watch war films or not?

October 18th – I played a very cheesy 80s video (please watch – so awful!!) and punted our screening!!

November 1st – I talked to the utterly gorgeous and bouncy Brendan O’Byrne.

Last stop – now is Sebastian Junger and my journey will be complete. I can’t wait to speak to him.

I have heard he can fell a women with just a smile – or is it tree? He used to be a lumberjack. Marlboro’ man-tastic. He’s definitely a hottie. Will he be hotter than Hetherington though, now that is the question?

Me, Restrepo and Brendan O’Byrne

I am stuck on Planet Restrepo and I can’t get off. I didn’t sit on the side of that mountain and get pounded by gunman that wanted to shoot at Americans but I am somehow inextricably tied into this film and no matter how much I yell ‘stop the bus I want to get off’ I keep getting pulled back in.

So after running around like a nutter doing Halloween type shenanigans and filling my kids full of sugar, I then had the privilege of chewing the fat with the utterly gorgeous Brendan O’Byrne, the poster boy from Restrepo and one of the US intrepid serviceman that stood on a mountain for his country and defended his position against any enemy that fancied shooting at some Americans.

Each interview has a something to offer so I think you should take the time to listen. I do seem to have a little bit of interview tourettes – sorry! Me and my potty mouth!

One last time…tomorrow….see RESTREPO @ the Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey, 7pm, buy your £6 tickets on the door.

It’s really hard pre-hype to explain how significant this film is when it’s full significance has yet to be realised. But trust me, it’s important. It is significant. Take this once in a lifetime opportunity, get off your f*cking, lazy arse and get to this screening and watch this goddamn film.

You know I can’t even get off the bus yet after the screening because the Great Lord Junger, writing Diety, and all round legend, has agreed to an interview with me after the 7th November. This is what I mean. Just when you think it’s all over, then the Universe dangles this big juicy carrot in front of me, and I have to let the path run it’s course. I can hardly turn down the opportunity to chat with Sebastian Junger now can I? Would you?

I’m Trapped And I Am So Confused

[You have gotta a love a bit of Colonel Abrahams – although it did make a little bit of sick come up when I listened to it. I really hate 80’s music! Sorry – but seriously living through it once was enough. I don’t mind if you love it, and I’ll happily dance round your handbag with you should you want me too, with aplomb, but it’s not actually for me]

Once a traveler, always a traveler. I am ready to flee and get on the road again. I started traveling alone, when I was 11 years old. My dad worked for British Rail, and because he was a manager, we all got 20 free, 24 hour, first class rail passes. This meant that I could travel anywhere in England, first class, as far as I could get in 24 hours. It was my first taste of freedom. I loved it. I cherished it and I did not waste one 24 hour pass ever. In fact, I would have to plan my year to ensure that I could get the most value out of it. We had moved to Warminster, and my gran, Betty, and her bosum, that I needed to nurture me was still in York, so I would get on the train to go and stay with her as often as I could. My dad was not so bothered about schlepping up and down the country, so I convinced him I could do it alone. First, the direct train from Bristol (5 hrs), and then in my teenage years, via London, my preferred route, which was two express train journeys and a splash of tube. I loved the solitude of solo travel, and for someone, who is never short of chat, that may surprise you, but I don’t like to interact with folk when I am roaming. I like to observe. From the age of 11, I didn’t look back, and I have been traveling ever since.

Hagar is away. Not at war away, but away, doing something exhilarating and positive – re-charging his mojo. My two most cherished things have always been my independence and my freedom. Yet, married to the military, with two kids, and I seemed to have eroded into these precious gifts. This leaves me battling against the house destroying atoms that are my children, and trying to stay on top of a spiraling domestic and professional workload. At the moment, I feel on the precipice, and I want just run away as fast as I can gallop, but alas ‘non’. I am stuck here continuing to live the dream. It’s a nice prison. It’s cosy and warm, and my children, who I achingly love, are with me, but I am grumpy and prowling around like a caged bear.

Four years ago, I was the Communications Director, or my full title, given to me by one of my most favourite photographers, Princess Towers, from OnEdition, The Inter-Galatic Media Empress, on the Velux 5 Oceans. The fleet had just sailed into a 90 mile per hour winds in the Bay of Biscay, and we had a 72 hour period of utter mentalness, and I found myself living for a week in a dodgy hotel, in La Coruna, in Spain. I had with me only two pairs of pants, a spare shirt and the clothes I was wearing. My job was to make sure that Sir Robin Knox Johnston safely got himself back to sailing solo around the world again. It was like living in a real comedy of errors, where incident after incident occurred daily; double punctures on hire cars, drunken disco dancing, unexpected old man pant shopping, to name but a few and then having to leg it back across Europe, via trains, planes and automobiles. I loved every minute of the crazyness.

On Saturday last week, a fleet of 5 skippers set off again, this time under the management of the Inter-Galatic Media Emperor, Mr TK – I’d like to think that I paved the way for him to deliver an exquisite event. He was invaluable to me during the race and I have no doubt that he will be invaluable to Clipper Ventures, the race organisers throughout this one. He is the consummate professional. Bon voyage and fair winds to those intrepid five, the global circus has begun.

Just as an aside back to my point about the solitude of travel. TK and I agreed when we were globe trotting that we would try not to sit together on flights so that we could indulge in the solitude. We traveled so much together, and we would talk so much, that we both knew that we needed that space. I think that was why we made a great team, because we could be honest with each other, and working on these intense events, with madness and highly-charged emotion all around you, that honesty helps give you the perspective you need to keep moving forward.

Back in the Shire of Hamp, I am stuck still on Planet Restrepo. When I interviewed Maj Dan, a few weeks I sent this press release out, which was ignored by the media but I’ll share it with you now because I think of it as a prediction:

British blogger, A Modern Military Mother has posted on her blog her British exclusive interview with Dan Kearney, the US Army, now Major, then Captain, featured in Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s new award winning Documentary, Restrepo due to open in the UK on the 8th October.

In The Times, on 3rd October, the Afghanistan correspondent, Tom Coghlan wrote an article on the film, and in The Sunday Times, journalist doyen, Christina Lamb interviewed the legend that is Sebastian Junger, whilst The Observer, celebrated the artistic perspective of the British born director, Tim Hetherington. Meanwhile, in the backwater of the British military swamp of rural Hampshire, blogger and wife of Chinook pilot, A Modern Military Mother aka Clare Macnaughton, interviewed from her cupboard for an office in her military quarter, one of the real stars of the film Major Dan Kearney.

Restrepo, is to some extent pre-hype and once the ball starts rolling and it wins the predicted Oscar, Hetherington and Junger will be heralded as journalistic literati greats by those who themselves hanker for the same legendary status and notoriety.

Eventually, Restrepo will be made into an Hollywood blockbuster, just like The Perfect Storm and soon over paid actors will immortalise the underpaid soldiers that appeared in the documentary. Undoubtedly, the actors will be applauded and awarded for their execution of realism.

Junger and Hetherington have created a brave and iconic piece of filmic history and they absolutely should be celebrated but whilst they flew in and out of the outpost, in the heart of bandit country, in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan, Maj Dan Kearney was there for the whole 18 months, isolated by his rank and battling an aggressive brutal enemy, trying to achieve a nigh on impossible task. He and the men of Restrepo are the true stalwarts of the film and whilst the literati celebrate the work of their own, it is these men who are the ones that had their feelings stripped from their souls, who continue to work in their underpaid roles and continue their normal lives.

Last week, at 2am by Skype video call, while her husband played live war games, A Modern Military Mother exclusively interviewed Maj Dan Kearney. He talked to her about how he felt about the US withdrawal from the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, man sandwiches and how hell was the most beautiful sh*thole in the world.

To find out more and to hear the interview, please visit:

http://amodernmilitarymother.com/2010/10/03/the-lone-captain/

Now I am punting this:

AWARD WINNING WAR DOCUMENTARY

RESTREPO

SHOWING AT THE MALTINGS, FARNHAM, SURREY

THREE MILITARY WIVES JOIN DOGWOOF AMBASSADORS PROGRAMME

Bringing film to the people by the people

To book tickets:

http://screenings.dogwoof.com/products/restrepo-tickets-01-nov-2010-19-00-farnham-maltings-farnham-surrey

(or search RestrepoUK)

Restrepo @Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey
Date: 01 Nov 2010
Time: 19:00
Tickets: £6.00 (389 tickets available)
Location: Bridge Square, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7QR

ONE NIGHT ONLY!!!

Restrepo Trailer

Three military wives, blogger A Modern Military Mother, Clare Macnaughton, Stephanie Flint and Faith Lindsey from Fleet, Hampshire have signed up to become Dogwoof Film Ambassadors, to bring the Award Winning Documentary Restrepo, to the Surrey and Hampshire area, showing the film at the Farnham Maltings, Farnham Surrey.

There are 400 tickets available to buy for the 7pm screening.

“We believe that this film is so significant in providing a window into the world, and psyche of the serving, that we want to give our community an opportunity to see the film on the big screen.” Said Stephanie Flint.

“Restrepo is a film of great energy and spirit. It will show you into the soul of the soldier and help you understand the highs and lows, the strength and the vulnerabilities, and the intensity of war. Sometimes, you need to look at things you don’t want to see to understand the things you can’t see.” Said Clare Macnaughton, blogger A Modern Military Mother.

“We were delighted that the Dogwoof Ambassador programme gives us wives, the support network of military, a chance to share in the delivery of film that is so significant to our community and also the civilian community.” Said Faith Lindsay.

About Restrepo

RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo”, named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment.

This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

“The war in Afghanistan has become highly politicized, but soldiers rarely take part in that discussion. Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives: we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one’s political beliefs.

Beliefs are a way to avoid looking at reality.

This is reality.”

– Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger – Directors, Restrepo

So please help me sell out this bloody event so that I can get off Planet Restrepo, and also Toys R Us have sent me yet another box of frickin’ amazing toys that I have to review. Hagar is back soon, so I am going to get him to help me do the reviewing – the kids seriously are doing my head in. It feels like they just walk into a room, demand of me, express their disappointment with ear bleeding tones, and then should I have the audacity to turn my back for 10 seconds, they spin around like Tasmanian devils and trash an entire house in 10 seconds. This would be fine but I am Monica from Friends and can’t just leave it trashed!!! Aaaarghh – but I am staying positive. Repeat after me; ‘I love my life, I love my, l my life’……..I’ll tell you what I do love though my new logo from the best frigging designer in the world, and my best friend Fi Fi @ KifiCreative Check this out…….

Tim Hetherington, total hottie and all round thoroughly nice chap, soon to be Oscar winning director, thinks that I should lose the ‘A’ and just be MODERN MILITARY MOTHER – what say you?

Do Women Watch War Films?

Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger were embedded for 10 months, with the US Army; but I feel like I have been embedded with the RAF for the last 10 years. An anthropological observer, trying to understand, and navigate the plethora of unwritten codes of conduct and expectation. Up until last year, when Hagar was deployed, I would bury my head in the sand, crack open the wine, count up to the middle and down again until he came home, whilst avoiding the news as much as possible. I didn’t even want to look at the war. In the 12 years we have been together he has been to Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Iraq (approx 4 times) and Afghanistan (approx 4 times) – to be honest I lose count. I would say that probably over 50% of our relationship has been apart. At one point, he was doing 8 weeks on and 8 weeks off, so ‘going to war’ just became part of our every day life.

The tempo of ops for all the Chinook guys and gals is high. In fact, Hagar was awarded a Mention-In-Despatches after one deployment for some daring do. It was difficult to know what to say, how to support him because his ‘away journey’ was one I could never understand. There wasn’t a break for either of us. It’s hard to explain it, but this bouncing apart and coming together, with profound life changing experiences happening in an unknown country, with ramifications, and meaning, that aren’t everyday dinner conversations, are hard to put into words, and so, often, he didn’t. He just brooded, and found his own way back to us, whilst I watched, and waited in the eaves of his darkness, for the unraveling to occur.

In September 2008, I began researching, and writing, a battlefield memoir about the role of the Chinooks, in Afghanistan, and in the British Armed Forces. Suddenly, I was forced to confront face-on a subject matter that I had been purposefully ignoring. I was very lucky to be surrounded by experts that helped, and supported me, on my journey, starting at The Great Game; to the fall of the Northern Alliance; to September 11th; to the Bonn Agreement. I had always buffered my fears, with the certain comfort that the Chinook is the best defended aircraft, and the aviation best bet, for my own warrior-class serviceman. The whole tempo of the memoir was centred around the notion that the Taliban had identified the CH47 (Chinook) as a glory target. They called it the cow. It was the ultimate prize to down one, and dance around it, showcasing their majesty to the world. Never in the history of the British Chinook force had an aircraft been shot down in combat.

I laid down the 100,000 word manuscript in 10 weeks in an intensive, marathon writing session, where I became unnaturally immersed in a conflict I had never visited, flying an aircraft I had never flown, as a person I would never be. One month after the book, hit the bookshelves, the worst happened. Hagar got a call at midnight, summoning him to work. I knew before the story broke in the media. A British Chinook had been shot down in Afghanistan. The first ever in it’s history. I knew the pilot. I knew the pilot that picked them up. It felt very up, close and very personal, and I had a huge disproportionate reaction to it and freaked out. This cushion of safety, of vigilance, of aircraft redundancy, of training and being the best they could be shattered around me and all over of a sudden I was hit with the under-deniable reality of the true danger of Afghanistan. A danger, that I had been blissfully, and ignorantly, ignoring as a coping mechanism for the endless churn of ops that I was enduring from the domestic frontline.

Since the book was published, I now bravely look the ‘war machine’ in the eye, and try to make sense of the conflict. All the research and understanding hasn’t made me any wiser. I am just frustrated by the complexity of the problem. I am a problem solver. I am a fixer and Afghanistan is an intricate, layered, very tricky puzzle indeed.

So as a wife of a service man do I watch war films? The answer is yes, I do. I have done since before I met Hagar. The first war film I loved was ‘Sink the Bizmarck’. Hagar and I watched Band of Brothers and Pacific religiously. They are brilliant depictions of combat. In fact, I think Restrepo is the documentary that Band of Brothers would have been if it had been recorded in real time; in the same way Tim and Sebastian recorded Restrepo. The notion of brotherhood at the heart of the war machine, that Tim discusses in our interview, is not new but it has never been so acutely and accurately captured as in the making of Restrepo.

The wives and families of Restrepo troops watched the film, and gleaned an understanding of what their loved ones had experienced at the outpost. One wife said, “I wish I had seen RESTREPO before my divorce, it’d given me an understanding of my ex-husband’s experience that I wish I had had while I was with him. He never shared.”

When I spoke with Dan Kearney he told me he had stopped feeling. He had buried his emotions, deep inside his soul and thrown away the key. Men are not sharers. Sharing is a sign of weakness. The men of Restrepo are warriors; they are Spartans. They write tattoos shouting “Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself”. The military men want you to understand by osmosis what they have experienced, and then instinctively know how to empathise, love and support them as they internalise their pain and emotions. At the sharp end of combat, tattoed in war paint, armed and braced for battle the young Spartan is an adrenaline charged, fighting, macho machine. But in the aftermath, in the comedown of combat, in the bosum of home, when the adrenaline surges out of his body; he is a boy again, with skin, bones, and feelings that he would rather not have.

As a wife of a military pliot, and the mother of a young son, there is a lot to be gained from watching Restrepo. It’s a brave watch, with a window into battle. It shows that “war is not the glorious adventure depicted on films; it’s cruel, destructive and worst of all, indiscriminate in the slaughter and maiming of women and children and non-combatants who play no part in the conflict.”

But it is a film of great energy and spirit. It will show you into the soul of the soldier and help you understand the highs and lows, the strength and the vulnerabilities, and the intensity of war. Sometimes, you need to look at things you don’t want to see to understand the things you can’t see.

What’s interesting for me is that two, very serious, aging social observers and recorders, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, went into the edge of Armageddon and got so much more then they had ever bargained for. They became esconced; enchanted by the brotherhood and joined them. I suspect that was not what they forsaw at all.

At the launch of Infidel, Tim Hetherington’s latest book, he stood before the room and he looked exposed and vulnerable like a Ninja Turtle without his shell. But, I can imagine embedded in battle, with his flack jacket and camera, he is shooting his own weapon, and is in a warrior-class of his own.

The creation of his book, the film, Restrepo, and Sebastian Junger’s book, War have a created an incredible insight to the psyche of the soldier. Infidel, the leather bound, black, stunning, book of creativity is an homage to the Spartan Warrior, from the outpost Restrepo. A collection of moving, beautiful, tragic and uplifting images, recording and illustrating, the feral, adrenaline charged pack of brothers that fought on the edge of a mountain, trying to build a road, fighting an enemy they couldn’t see and didn’t really understand but knew hated them; the Infidel.

Restrepo open’s today to see it: click here

To buy Tim’s book click here

To buy Sebastian’s book click here

You know if you want to get your man the ultimate box set for Christmas – there is the Restrepo trilogy, if you add in the DVD, which is out at the end of November. Then, if you are a wife like me you can watch it behind a pillow. It’s worth look see.

The Tim Hetherington Exhibition is being hosted by Host Gallery, click here

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I just wondered ladies is this a film for you? If not, why not? Please share.