Hell and Back Again

Hell and Back Again

About the Film

In 2009, U.S. Marines launch 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 (U.S. 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. MORE

When Sergeant Harris returns home to North Carolina after a life-threatening injury in battle, the film evolves from a war exposé 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 shocking experience of returning home.

Half startlingly raw war documentary and half intimate portrait of a man in physical and spiritual agony, Hell and Back Again has been nominated for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The Filmmaker

Danfung Dennis

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, and viewers. Subsequently, the program was nominated for a 2010 Emmy Award. In 2010, 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. LESS

Film Credits

In Remembrance of
LCpl Charles S. Sharp, 20, Adairsville, GA
ANA Amir Muhammad, 24, Northern Afghanistan
Cpl Jeremy S.Lasher, 27, Oneida, N.Y
Cpl Nicholas G. Xiarhos, 21, Yarmouth Port, MA
Pfc Donald W.Vincent, 26, Gainesville, FL
LCpl Jonathan F. Stroud, 20, Cashion, OK
LCpl Gregory A.Posey, 22 Knoxville, TN
LCpl Dennis J. Burrow, 23, Naples, FL
LCpl Javier Olvera, 20, Palmdale, CA
LCpl Patrick W, Schimmel, 21, Winfield, MO
LCpl Bruce E. Ferrell, 21, Perdido, AL
LCpl Leopold F.Damas, 26, Floral Park, NY
LCpl David R. Hall, 31, Elyria, OH
Lcpl Jordan Chrobot, 24, Frederick, MD
Cpl Xhacob LaTorre, 21, Waterbury, CT

Directed and Filmed by
Danfung Dennis

Fiona Otway

Mike Lerner
Martin Herring

Music, Lyrics, and Sound Design
J. Ralph

Original Song "Hell And Back" Performed by
Willie Nelson

Sound Recording and Additional Sound Design
Danfung Dennis

The Marines of Echo Company
2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment

Sgt Nathan Harris
Ashley Harris

Also Featuring
Lt Col Christian Cabaniss
Cpt Eric Meador
Lt Edward Hubbard
Chaplain Terry Roberts
SSgt Doug Webb
Lt Cmdr Robert Gaines
Lt Cmdr Matthew Swibe
Sgt Chris MacDonald

Executive Producers
Dan Cogan
Karol Martesko-Fenster
Gernot Schaffler
Thomas Brunner
Havana Marking

Editorial Consultant
Jenny Raskin

Co-Executive Producers
Diana Barrett
Steven Cohen
David Cumming
Ian Darling
Abigail Disney & Pierre Hauser
Patricia Lambrecht
Juliette Timsit & Caroleen Feeney

Co-Executive Producer For Channel 4 Brit Doc Foundation
Maxyne Franklin

Score Produced by
Bubb Jess for The Rumor Mill

Score Recorded at
The Theater, NYC

2nd Engineers
Brian Binsack
Gary Morris
Guy Rabinowitz

Additional Sound Design
Arthur Pringrey

Sound Re-Recording Mixers
Reily Steele

Additional Footage
LCpl James Andrews

Ahmad Fahin Nooristani
Mohamad Ismail

Branding and Art Direction
Colin Metcalf Lemon

Stewart Griffin

Digital Intermediate Editor
Ben Laffin

Post Production Services
First Frame

Production Manager
Janet Knipe

Production Coordinators
Georgie Duncan
Karinah Turner

Post House
Final Frame

Rodney Brooks

Public Relations USA
Falco Ink.

Distribution Advisory Services USA
Cinetic Media

Special Thanks
Celia Beasley
Cpl Andy Byant
Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Peter Christellis
Ben Coulson
Adam Dean
Bruce Dorn
Eric Frith
Tom Furtwangler
Jim Gardner
Marcela Gaviria
Sgt Lucas Hartman
Richard Jobson
Deborah Kallgren
Eric Klein
Shinji Kuwayama
Teru Kuwayama
Ross Kauffman
Nelly Petit
Lt Evan Pettyjohn
Joe Raedle
Sandy and Chip
The Family of LCpl Charles Seth Sharp
Cpt Abraham Sipe
James Allen Smith
Martin Smith
Sound One
Sgt Juan Vera
Misty Weiser

Hell and Back Again was produced by Roast Beef Productions Limited
in association with Impact Partners, Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation,
Sabotage Films, and Thought Engine.

This program was produced by Danfung Dennis and Roast Beef Productions Limited,
who is solely responsible for its content.

© 2010 Danfung Dennis/Roast Beef Productions. All rights reserved.

What responsibility do you think the military has to care for the physical and psychological injuries suffered by soldiers who see combat in places like Afghanistan and Iraq?


  • 2012 Academy Award Nomination
    Best Documentary Feature
  • 2012 du Pont-Columbia Award
    Award Winner
What responsibility do you think the military has to care for the physical and psychological injuries suffered by soldiers who see combat in places like Afghanistan and Iraq?