Yes, it's 2011, and we're still at war. This list of documentaries cover current armed conflicts and those of the past. But what they have in common is ordinary citizens who've stepped up to serve, hoping to make the world a better place while carving out a career for themselves. The stories told in these films are theirs. Watch these documentaries to honor them on this Veterans Day, 2011.
Heather Courtney's Where Soldiers Come From
shows what happens to three small town, middle America high school buddies who sign up for the Michigan National Guard, find themselves deployed to Afghanistan, experience the traumas of war for nine months, and return home, where they must try to piece together their once peaceful rural lives
The Weinstein Company
NFL football hero turned Army Ranger, Pat Tillman was killed in April of 2004, while deployed in Afghanistan. News of his death made banner headlines and set the entire nation -- not just sports fans -- into mourning. When his family tried to find out the circumstances of Tillman's death, they were stonewalled by the Army. In turn, Tillman's mother discovered that her son had been killed by friendly fire, a fact that the Army tried to cover up. The story of Tillman’s life and of his untimely death is one that lends itself to legend, and to great documentary filmmaking. Amir Bar-Lev's film is a moving tribute to a fallen hero, as well as an investigation into the circumstances of his death.
Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger were embedded with a platoon of U.S. soldiers, the Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during their 15-month deployment to Afghanistan's remote Korengal Valley. Both the filmmakers and soldiers are in constant danger, under extreme stress and always fearful, yet they carry on. Without comment or personal intervention, the filmmakers show what it's like to be at war. Tragically, after this film won many awards and accolades, Tim Hetherington was killed while on assignment in a war zone.
Filmmakers Lexi Lovell and Michael Uys present a squad of highly decorated soldiers who'd fought valiantly in a catalog America's wars -- World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Iraq -- and, in doing so, came to the conclusion that warfare is neither a righteous nor effective way to resolve differences of opinion, ideology and/or national interests. The Good Soldier
is a powerful documentary that questions the efficacy of war. It opened theatrically on Veterans Day in 2009.
Profiling eight American soldiers, Soldiers of Conscience
investigates how soldiers grapple with the morality of killing -- even during war. Four of the profiled soldiers believe that killing is wrong and completely refuse to kill, and four of them believe that killing in times and under the conditions of warfare is necessary and acceptable. This well-balanced documentary shows that whether soldiers accept killing as a necessity or not, their combat duty has lasting effects on their lives, outlooks and future behavior.
Filmmakers Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers follow a group of courageous women soldiers who were deployed to Iraq as support personnel--mechanics, cooks, and clerks--but found themselves in actual combat situations. Known as Team Lioness, they are the first generation of American women to return home as combat veterans, and their debriefing in this film is heart wrenching and enlightening. Selected as part of ITVS' Women and Girls Lead
will be shown in community screenings and aired on PBS. It is also available on DVD (Compare Prices)
Journalist Ben Anderson spent two months embedded with U.S. Marines deployed to Afghanistan, where they were charged with removing the Taliban from Marjah, a small town with a large Taliban population. As they fought in Operation Moshtarak, the largest (to date) offensive in the Afghanistan War, they tried to cope with extremely challenging conditions for which they were clearly not prepared.
In Body of War
, Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro present the heart wrenching story of how 22-year-old Tomas Young enlisted to serve his country and became a victim of the Iraq War.
chronicles one of the most troubled periods in recent U.S. history -- the Vietnam Era. While war continued to rage overseas, 125 Vietnam veterans from all branches of the military gathered in a Howard Johnson's motel in Detroit on January 31, 1971, to speak out about the atrocities they had committed and witnessed while on active duty. Winter Soldier
is the record of their testimony. Available on DVD (Compare Prices)
presents the history of the effects of war on combat veterans from the time of the U.S. Civil War -- when doctors called it hysteria, melancholia and insanity -- the to the present, when -- according to authorities -- suicide among veterans is increasing. This is an extremely important and well made film that shows that most soldiers returning from combat experience severe depression, sleep disorders and other symptoms, now collectively known as post-traumatic stress disorder.