2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: HELL AND BACK AGAIN

My spotlight on this year’s World Cinema Documentary Competition continues with Danfung Dennis’ HELL AND BACK AGAIN, about a wounded soldier’s haunting experience of war in Afghanistan, a UK/US co-production.

Sundance Program Description:

In 2009, U.S. Marines launched a major helicopter assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. Immediately upon landing, the marines were surrounded by insurgents and attacked from all sides. Embedded in Echo Company, filmmaker Danfung Dennis captures the action with visceral immediacy. As he reveals the devastating impact a Taliban machine-gun bullet has on the life of 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris, Dennis’s film evolves from being a war exposé to becoming a story of one man’s personal apocalypse. From the bloody battlefields of Afghanistan, to his home in North Carolina, Harris struggles to conquer the physical and mental fallout of war. A shell of the man he once was, will Harris ever return to the happy life he shared with his loving wife, Ashley?

Contrasting the horrors of the battlefield with the battle back home, HELL AND BACK AGAIN is a transcendent film that comes full circle as it lays bare the true cost of war.

Some Background:
First-time director Dennis is known as a war correspondent and was nominated for an Emmy for his camerawork on OBAMA’S WAR for PBS’s Frontline. His producers, Mike Lerner and Martin Herring are no strangers to either Afghanistan or Sundance, having executive produced the 2009 World Cinema Documentary Directing winner and Audience Award winner AFGHAN STAR.

Why You Should Watch:
While there have been many impressive non-fiction projects focusing on the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, including last year’s award winner RESTREPO, and Toronto standout ARMADILLO, HELL AND BACK AGAIN is especially distinguished by its impressive sense of editing, and especially its sound editing, to match its troubled protagonist’s experiences at war and in its aftermath.

Screening Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above. The film also has a placeholder website which, when updated, will likely include updates on future screening plans.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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