In remembrance of the British/American photojournalist and filmmaker, Tim Hetherington, who was killed in April 2011 while on assignment in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya, the Festival presents Sleeping Soldiers. His portraits of sleeping American soldiers are featured on billboards, at the intersection of College, Dundas and Lansdowne in Toronto, and in other cities across Canada. The images were shot during the making of the Oscar-nominated documentary, Restrepo (2010), the film Hetherington co-directed with Sebastian Junger about the soldiers of a U.S. Airborne Infantry platoon based in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.

Hetherington’s tightly-framed portraits convey an intimacy not typically associated with representations of the military. In contrast to the tendency to see modern day warriors as dehumanized, he depicts them shirtless and vulnerable (albeit secure enough to sleep soundly) to expose in public the private act of being asleep. These photographs take no political position on the war in Afghanistan; instead, Hetherington’s images tell a timeless story about the lives of men in war zones. In the summer of 2011, Canada officially ended its direct combat role in Afghanistan; Canadian troops in the region now train the Afghani military, a mission in many ways no less dangerous. Shown on billboards across the country, Hetherington’s soldiers evoke the idea of tactical vulnerability. By implication, the project starts a conversation about Canada’s role in foreign military conflicts—and how such engagements effect those who participate on our behalf.

The Tim Hetherington Foundation is currently being established to provide assistance to struggling students, artists and those in need around the world. For more information and details on where to send donations, please go to www.timhetherington.org 

Cross-Canada Billboard Locations

Vancouver Drake St at Howe St & Clarke Dr at E 2nd & E 4th 3 horizontal billboards, 10 x 20 ft

Calgary 9 Ave SE at 13 St SE 5 horizontal billboards, 10 x 20 ft

Saskatoon Pacific Ave at 22nd & 23rd St 4 horizontal billboards, 10 x 20 ft

Winnipeg Isabel St at William Ave 4 horizontal billboards, 10 x 20 ft 2 vertical billboards, 16 x 12 ft

Montreal Van Horne Ave at St. Laurent & St Urbain 3 horizontal billboards, 10 x 20 ft

Dartmouth North St at Alderney Dr 2 horizontal billboards, 10 x 20 ft

Supported by Pattison Outdoor Advertising and Nikon Canada.

Curated by Persilia Caton and Bonnie Rubenstein