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‘Korengal’ Director on Reporting Honestly From the Frontlines of War

Korengal is Sebastian Junger’s follow-up to his Oscar nominated documentary, Restrepo, which was co-directed with the late Tim Hetherington. The new film uses cut footage from Restrepo and focuses specifically on a soldier’s experience as they return from combat.

Korengal

director Sebastian Junger. Photo by Tim Hetherington.

“We saw Restrepo as an experiential movie. You have something close to the experience of combat. It’s unfiltered, untainted by a musical score or narration,” Junger explains to Documentary.org. “With Korengal, we didn’t feel constrained like that. We really wanted to make a film that strove to understand that experience conceptually. And that was why we used interviews where we asked the soldiers, How does fear work? What does courage mean? Why do you miss the war?”

Junger’s focus was on the paradoxical truths of wars, specifically how soldiers can be at once traumatized by their experiences and also nostalgic for them. “A lot of soldiers play ‘war’ when they’re little boys,” Junger says. “They join the Army because they want to know what combat is like. And they get into combat, and they love it. Then they get home, and they miss it. I’m trying to report all of that moral complexity, trying to report it honestly, and not censor it.”

Ultimately, Junger’s film is aimed at creating a dialogue between both soldiers and civilians. He says, “We send them off, and they come home. They come home changed. And I thought if I made a film that helped soldiers unpack and understand their own experience at war, if I could do that, civilians might also understand that experience better. It seemed like having a work that tries to understand that experience would help everybody.”

Read the full story here.

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