Conflict | reportage / Joint UK Premiere premiere

Hell and Back Again

  • Danfung Dennis /
  • United States of America, United Kingdom /
  • 2010 /
  • 88 mins

Documentary / English

Saturday 25th 19:50 George Square Theatre

Sunday 26th 16:00 George Square Theatre 

Please note that this performance has undergone a change of venue and time. Now screening at George Square Theatre.

This is a war documentary, the likes of which you’ve never seen; important and devastating, it ushers in a new multi-sensorial language of conflict reportage.

How do you lead men into battle? How to cope when normal life is a more frightening prospect than white hot contact?

This 2011 double Sundance winner (Cinematography and Grand Jury prizes) and, incredibly, debut feature from Danfung Dennis posits potent and humane answers, in a fashion unlike few previous Afghanistan essays. Dennis was embedded with US Marines Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, as they launched a major assault on Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. We follow Sergeant Nathan Harris, as he leads his men in dreadful contact, and as they reach out to despairing, displaced villagers.

When Harris is horribly injured, he returns home to his wife, and becomes addicted to medication. This a portrait of a man battling pain, addiction, dreadful memories, the loss of his self, and those who must pick up the pieces, and suffer the repercussions... The film is extraordinary on several levels. Dennis built for himself a flexible, fully portable, wearable camera and sound rig, allowing him to keep pace with the fast moving troops, maintaining position at the centre of some terrifying action; the battle scenes are alarming and unsettlingly exciting, with the values of an expensive Hollywood reconstruction. Dennis brings a photographer’s subtle framing and composition to each shot (he won a Bayeux-Calvados Award for War Correspondents) ; it’s a painterly, beautiful film.

Each screening will be followed by panel discussions with the film’s director Danfung Dennis; ex-army captain and founder of the Frontline Club Vaughan Smith; Former Major-General Andrew Mackay who commanded the Helmand Task Force from October 2007 until April 2008, for which he was later awarded a CBE; Lucy Abraham, clinical psychologist for Veterans First Point; and Jess Search CEO of the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, which provided initial funding for the film.

Danfung Dennis is attending the Festival and, with fellow war correspondents Balazs Gardi, Teru Kuwayama and Inigo Gilmore, as presenting an unmissable series of events exploring modern conflict reportage, in association with the Frontline Club, see the EIFF website for details and tickets.

 Please note on Sunday 26 June Vaughan Smith's short film Blood and Dust (USA/ 2011/ 25 min) is preceding the feature.

Both screenings have an allocation of free tickets for current service personnel, veterans and their families as part of National Armed Forces Day’s cultural programme.

2011 Archive

Book Tickets

  • 25 June, 19:50 at George Square Theatre

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  • 26 June, 16:00 at George Square Theatre

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