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“Packs a savage but understated punch.”

Andrew Barker, Variety
 
 
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WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM

A Film by Heather Courtney

USA 2011 • 91 minutes• All Digital Formats

     
::  link to official website  
::  watch the trailer  
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::  press material / photographs to download  
     
 

From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war. 

A documentary about growing up, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM, is an intimate look at the young men who fight our wars and the families and town they come from.  Returning to her hometown, Director Heather Courtney gains extraordinary access following these young men as they grow and change from teenagers stuck in their town, to 23-year-old veterans facing the struggles of returning home.

“One of the TOP TEN FILMS of SXSW.
A rich document from an enclosed world of youth.”

– Mark Asch, Film Comment

“RIVETING and EYE-OPENING.”
-- Aaron Hillis, LA Weekly

“A FILM THAT EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD SEE.
Constructed with a MASTERFUL combination of TENDER intimacy and HARD-HITTING insight. Courtney’s STEADY DIRECTORIAL GAZE makes it impossible for an audience to turn away from the burden shouldered by our men and women in uniform. In doing this, it paints the most UNIVERSALLY RELEVANT picture of this war so far.”

-- Lela Scott MacNeil, Rooftop Films

Enticed by a $20,000 signing bonus and college tuition support, best friends Dominic and Cole join the National Guard after graduating from their rural high school.  After persuading several of their friends to join them, the young men are sent to Afghanistan, where they spend their days sweeping for roadside bombs. Courtney goes with them.  By the time their deployment ends, they are no longer the carefree group of friends they were before enlisting; repeated bombs blowing up around their convoys have led to the new silent signature wound of the Afghan war, Traumatic Brain Injury, and they have all become increasingly disillusioned about their mission.

The challenges really begin to surface when they return to their families and communities in Michigan and try to fit back into their daily routines.  WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM looks beyond the guns and policies of an ongoing war to examine the war’s effect on parents, loved ones and the whole community when young people go off to fight.

 
     
 

WINNER
Jury Award for Editing, SXSW 2011

 
     

WINNER, Founder’s Prize for Best US Documentary
TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL 2011

 
     
Official Selection
SILVERDOCS 2011
 
     
Official Selection
FULL FRAME DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL 2011
 
     

Official Selection
LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL 2011

 
 
     
  “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.” – Heather Courtney  
     
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