Last summer, we were thrilled to screen Heather Courtney’s WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM as part of our summer series. Heather’s striking doc follows young soldiers from their hometown in Northern Michigan to deployment in Afghanistan and back, all the while preserving the dignity and humanity of her brave subjects. Whereas many war docs focus on politics, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM looks most carefully at the psychological and emotional effects of war on soldiers and their loved ones at home, as Heather says:
“In any film where going to war is a major plot point, it would be easy to make a political statement. But in WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM, I am more interested in focusing on the emotional and human aspects of the story. Many Americans, whatever their politics or feelings about war, are very far removed from the Iraq/Afghanistan wars because they don’t know anyone personally who has gone there as a soldier. I hope that my film will help viewers get to know these young men and their families, feel compassion for them, and see a bit of themselves in the people on the screen.”
As I was watching, I found myself holding my breath, hoping beyond anything else that these young men would return home safely to the families who shared their anxieties so openly before Heather’s camera. I was struck by their eloquence in describing the confusing and oftentimes conflicting feelings surrounding wartime, and their ambivalence about the difficulty of reintegrating into everyday life. And I’m not the only one to feel deeply affected by Heather’s work. Not only has she shown at Rooftop in the past (LETTERS FROM THE OTHER SIDE), SOLDIERS has received awards at SXSW, the Traverse City Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Festival, and was recently honored with an Independent Spirit Award.