Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where Soldiers Come From

I just felt like I needed to do something with my life.
~ Dominic Fredianelli

The documentary, Where Soldiers Come From, by Heather Courtney, premiered at SXSW Film Festival in March of this year and in New York City on September 9; it has since been opening all around the United States. The award-winning film, which took four years to make, is Courtney's effort to tell a coming-of-age story that also dispels the stereotypes too many of us hold about America's rural small towns. She does this by following the lives of a group of teenagers, all friends since childhood on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, who join the Michigan National Guard right out of high school and soon find themselves on active duty in Afghanistan, where their job is to uncover improvised explosive devices. The filmmaker not only spent time with the young men and their families before deployment but also while they were abroad and after they returned to Michigan. In that back-home-from-the-war part of the documentary, Courtney seeks to reveal the human beings not in uniform, trying to adjust, post-combat, to the experiences they carry with them and cannot unburden. 

The principal subjects of the film are Dominic Fredianelli, Cole Smith, and Matt Beaudoin.

With our country still at war and communities like these young men's ravaged by an economy in tatters, viewers of this film who have never had a family member go to war or who themselves have never known the want of choices may find themselves questioning what it means to have options and alternatives and what we owe our sons, husbands, brothers, loved ones we send to war.

Here's the trailer for the film. I hope if you watch it you find it as touching as I did.

Where Soldiers Come From - New HD Trailer from Heather Courtney on Vimeo.

YouTube Clip of Filmmaker and Subjects (Other selections from the film have been posted at YouTube. The film also is available for online viewing.)

PBS NewsHour ArtBeat Interview, April 26, 2011:

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Interview at ArtInfo with Graffiti Artist Dominic Fredianelli (In the interview, Fredianelli, one of principals in the film, speaks about the experience and traumas of war  — he, like others in his unit, suffered traumatic brain injury — and how art created for him a pathway to healing.)

Selected Images from the Film

WSCF on FaceBook and Twitter


Louise Gallagher said...

Thanks for sharing this Maureen. I can't watch it on my Ipad but will download it once I'm home -- the trailer definitely strikes a chord.

Joyce Wycoff said...

Thanks, Maureen ... very powerful, frustrating, sad, humbling all at the same time.

S. Etole said...

I have a friend with two children serving in Afghanistan and another one who was there earlier. All from a small town of about a thousand.

Michael Ann said...

Looks like a really powerful and important film. Thank you for telling us about it.