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.
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 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.
Filmmaker Janus Metz spent six months embedded with and documenting the experiences of Danish soldiers deployed to Afghanistan's Helmand Province, quite near Taliban stronghold positions. The film, which contains footage of the soldiers during life threatening shootouts and when they're off duty, is a fascinating study of how young men are effected by war experiences.
Journalist Ben Anderson spent two months embedded with U.S. Marines as they fought the in the largest (to date) offensive in the Afghanistan War. Called Operation Moshtarak, the strategy called for capture of Marjah, a small town with a large Taliban population. The film is Anderson's chronicle of that operation.
Lioness, a documentary by filmmakers Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers, profiles 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 enlightening.
Soldiers returning from combat experience severe depression, sleep disorders and other symptoms collectively known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Wartorn 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.