'Restrepo' Offers Intimate Portrayal of Soldiers in Afghanistan

PHOTO Documentary RESTREPO by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger.

Afghanistan is in the spotlight this week after President Obama dismissed the top U.S. general in the war effort, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. And now, a new documentary called "Restrepo" is providing an intimate look into the lives of the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military has been involved since 2001.

"Restrepo," directed and filmed by journalists Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, follows one platoon through a deployment to a particularly hard-fought region of the country: the Korengal Valley in Kunar Province.

VIDEO: Filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington discuss "Restrepo."
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The film offers viewers a look from the front lines and explicitly avoids making conclusions about the war.

"We wanted to move beyond kind of moral outrage of the story. You know, that's just not really helpful in communicating what exactly is going on," Hetherington told ABCNews.com.

Click HERE to watch the filmmakers discuss "Restrepo."

The film, which won the grand jury prize for documentary at this year's Sundance Film Festival, debuted Friday in New York and Los Angeles. It is scheduled to open in other cities beginning early next month.

Junger and Hetherington each made five trips to Afghanistan between June 2007 and July 2008, embedding with the Second Platoon of the 173rd Airborne Brigade's Battle Company.

Shooting 150 hours of video, they captured the battles and brotherhood in the soldiers' lives. Junger and Hetherington shot another 40 hours of interviews with the soldiers once they returned to their base in Vincenza, Italy. The film gets its title from a strategic outpost that the soldiers built and named for their medic, Juan Restrepo, who was killed in battle.

While filming Junger had a firsthand look at the dangers facing these men. He was travelling in a humvee with the troops when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Junger said he was able to stay calm and kept filming the moments of chaos that followed. "It was pretty straightforward shooting. I just kept pointing the camera where I was going."

Most of the men shown in "Restrepo" loved the film, say the filmmakers, but some were unable to see it because they have already been sent on other foreign deployments. Junger added that the wives and girlfriends of the soldiers especially valued the film. He said "Restrepo" provided them a "keyhole" that let them look into an important part of the mens' lives, one that can often be difficult to talk about.

This is the directorial debut for both Junger and Hetherington. The project arose after the filmmakers had been embedded with the troops while on assignment in Afghanistan for ABC News and Vanity Fair Magazine.

Junger has previously written four books including: "The Perfect Storm" and "War." Released earlier this year, "War" reported on the lives of the men in Second Platoon as they fought in Afghanistan. Hetherington, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, has worked in war zones before, such as in Liberia.

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