HELL ON EARTH

Courage Under Fire Award

In National Geographic Documentary Films’ Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and best-selling author Sebastian Junger and his Emmy-winning filmmaking partner, Nick Quested, chronicle Syria’s descent into the unbridled chaos that allowed the rise of the Islamic State, better known as ISIS. Pulling from nearly 1,000 hours of stunningly visceral footage — from that of a family living under ISIS control that finally fled to Turkey, to Kurdish fighters in Sinjar and Shia militias in Iraq and even to al-Qaida-affiliated fighters in and around Aleppo and Raqqa — Junger and Quested cover the ISIS catastrophe from multiple angles and feature interviews with top experts from around the world. Consequently, the filmmakers, who previously collaborated on a trio of films about war (“Restrepo,” “The Last Patrol” and “Korengal”), capture the Syrian war’s harrowing carnage, political and social consequences, and, most important, its human toll, while painting an alarming picture of the west’s role in the creation of ISIS.

Directors: Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested

SEBASTIAN JUNGER (director, producer) is the New York Times No. 1 best-selling author of “The Perfect Storm,” “Fire,” “A Death in Belmont,” “War” and “Tribe.” As an award-winning journalist, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a special correspondent at ABC News, he has covered major international news stories around the world and has received both a National Magazine Award and a Peabody Award. Junger is also a documentary filmmaker whose debut film, Restrepo, a feature-length documentary co-directed with Tim Hetherington, was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Restrepo, which chronicled the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, is widely considered to have broken new ground in war reporting. Junger has since produced and directed three additional documentaries about war and its aftermath. “Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?,” which premiered on HBO, chronicles the life and career of Junger’s friend and colleague, photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who was killed while covering the civil war in Libya in 2011. “Korengal” returns to the subject of combat and tries to answer the eternal question of why young men miss war. “The Last Patrol,” which also premiered on HBO, examines the complexities of returning from war, by following Junger and three friends — all of whom had experienced combat, either as soldiers or reporters — as they travel up the East Coast railroad lines on foot as “high-speed vagrants.” Junger has written for such magazines as Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Outside and Men’s Journal. His reporting on Afghanistan in 2000, profiling Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, who was assassinated just days before 9/11, became the subject of the National Geographic documentary Into the Forbidden Zone and introduced America to the Afghan resistance fighting the Taliban. Junger lives in New York City and Cape Cod.

NICK QUESTED (director, producer) is executive director and owner of Goldcrest Films, where he has built one of the world’s premiere documentary brands and won two Emmys for his work. Quested has served as a producer on over 35 films, including Sebastian Junger’s “The Last Patrol,” “Korengal,” the PGA- and two-time Emmy-nominated “Which Way Is the Front Line From Here?,” “The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” and the Oscar®-nominated Restrepo. Quested is also an award-winning music video director who has worked with such artists as Dr. Dre, Nas, Puffy, Sting, Master P, Cash Money and Trick Daddy. His credits include “Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives,” “Rubble Kings,” “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” “Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers,” “Stolen Seas,” “The List,” “Tell Spring Not to Come This Year” and “Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC.”