HELL AND BACK AGAIN

October 12, 2011, 7:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

 

Outside the Box [Office] and docuramafilms invite you and a guest to a special preview screening of

Hell and Back Again


Directed by Danfung Dennis
Produced by Mike Lerner and Martin Herring
 
Followed by a Q&A with Danfung Dennis

7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

The Ray Stark Family Theatre

George Lucas Building, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
 
 
**WINNER: World Cinema Grand Jury Award Documentary & World Cinema Cinematography Award – Sundance Film Festival 2011**

Opens at Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica on Friday, October 14th, 2011

About Hell and Back Again

In 2009, U.S. Marines launched a major helicopter assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. Within hours of being dropped deep behind enemy lines, 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris's unit (US Marines Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment) is attacked from all sides. Cut off and surrounded, the Marines fight a ghostlike enemy and experience immense hostility from displaced villagers caught in the middle.  

Embedded in Echo Company during the assault, photojournalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis
captures the frontline action with visceral immediacy. When Sergeant Harris returns home to North
Carolina after a life-threatening injury in battle, the film evolves from stunning war reportage to the story of one man's personal apocalypse. With the love and support of his wife, Ashley, Harris struggles to overcome the difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life.  
 
In immense physical pain, Sergeant Harris grows addicted to his medication. His agony deepens as he
attempts to reconcile the gulf between his experience of war and the terrifying normalcy of life at home. The two realities seamlessly intertwine to communicate both the extraordinary drama of war and, for a generation of soldiers, the no less difficult experience of returning home.
 
An unprecedented exploration of the moving image and a film of uncommon intimacy, Hell and Back Again comes full circle as it lays bare the true cost of war.

35mm print provided courtesy of docuramafilms. Unrated. In English and Pashtu, with English subtitles. Running time: 88 minutes.

To learn more about the film, click here.

 

About the Guest

Danfung Dennis (Director)
Since 2006, Danfung Dennis has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His still photographs have
been published in Newsweek, TIME, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian,
Rolling Stone, Le Figaro Magazine, Financial Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Der Spiegel, and The
Wall Street Journal.
 
PBS's Frontline opened its 2009 fall feature program, Obama's War using Danfung Dennis's
footage. The immersive nature of the footage prompted a flurry of comment and inquiry from the
Pentagon, the White House, veterans groups, viewers and the program was nominated for a 2010
Emmy Award.
 
In 2010, Danfung Dennis won the Bayeux-Calvados Award For War Correspondents, was named one
of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine and one of the 30 New and
Emerging Photographers by PDN Magazine.
 
Danfung Dennis directed and filmed his first feature-length documentary on the war in Afghanistan,
Hell and Back Again and is the founder of an immersive video startup Condition ONE. His
background is in Applied Economics and Business Management. Before working as a photojournalist
and filmmaker, he consulted small and medium-sized enterprises in Uganda and South Africa.

Director's Statement

Oct. 23, 2010 - This morning I learned a photographer friend was severely wounded after stepping on a
mine in southern Afghanistan. He lost both his legs and is in critical condition.
 
I'm flooded by feelings of rage, sadness, helplessness and isolation. I think of my friends and colleagues who have lost their lives while doing their job. It all seems utterly senseless.    
 
Unless you have a personal connection, the war in Afghanistan is an abstraction. After nearly ten years
since the initial invasion, the daily bombings and ongoing violence has become mundane, almost
ordinary. It is tempting to become indifferent to the horror and pain. It is much easier to look away from the victims. It is much easier to lead a life without rude interruptions from complex insurgencies in distant lands. But it is when we take this easier path, the suffering becomes of no consequence and
therefore meaningless. The anguish becomes invisible, an abstraction. It is when society becomes
numb to inhumanity; horror is allowed to spread in darkness.
 
Visual imagery can be a powerful medium for truth. The images of napalmed girls screaming by Nick
Ut, the street execution of a Vietcong prisoner by Eddie Adams, the shell-shocked soldier by Don
McCullin - these iconic images have burned into our collective consciousness as reminders of war's
consequences.
 
But, this visual language is dying. The traditional outlets are collapsing. In the midst of this upheaval,
we must invent a new language. I am attempting to combine the power of the still image with advanced
technology to change the vernacular of photojournalism and filmmaking. Instead of opening a window
to glimpse another world, I am attempting to bring the viewer into that world. I believe shared
experiences will ultimately build a common humanity.
 
Through my work I hope to shake people from their indifference to war, and to bridge the disconnect
between the realities on the ground and the public consciousness at home. By bearing witness and
shedding light on another's pain and despair, I am trying to invoke our humanity and a response to act.
Is it possible that war is an archaic and primitive human behavior that society is capable of advancing
past? Is it possible that the combination of photojournalism, filmmaking and technology can plead for
peace and contribute to this future?  
 
It is these possibilities that motivate us to risk life and limb.  
 
- Danfung Dennis, Director

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain. The weekly screenings will be on Wednesday and Sunday nights (and other select dates, as they arise) in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex, George Lucas Building.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the general public. Please bring a photo ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.

Parking

The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $8.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in outdoor Lot M or V, or Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Please note that Parking Structure D cannot accommodate tall vehicles such as SUVs. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu
Phone: 213.740.2330