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"Where Soldiers Come From"

Film collaboration of Northwestern alumna and professor airs Nov. 10 on PBS

November 7, 2011 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Where Soldiers Come From” -- a documentary chronicling the lives of three boyhood friends from rural Michigan before, during and after their National Guard deployment to Afghanistan -- airs on PBS stations Thursday night (Nov. 10). It is the fourth film by Medill alumna and filmmaker Heather Courtney to be broadcast on PBS.

Kyle Henry, a School of Communication assistant professor who teaches film production in the  radio/tv/film department, served as co-editor. “I hope this courageous story influences Congressional budget discussions,” he says. “Increasing Department of Veterans Affairs funding will be necessary to treat cases of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress in the wake of our current conflicts.”

Said one reviewer of the documentary: “Never heavy-handed, intrusively stylized or wagging its finger at foreign-policy hypocrisies we've all heard before, the film’s greatest heartbreak is showing how the only way for some to survive on the home front is to continually risk permanent injury overseas.”

Courtney returned to her hometown of Hancock, Mich., in the hopes of creating an honest film about small-town America. It wound up not only taking her to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula but also to Afghanistan’s war zones.

“Where Soldiers Come From” will be shown on “POV,” a PBS program that serves as a showcase for independent films. Courtney and Henry combed through 620 hours of footage to create the film. Their efforts earned them the 2011 award for best documentary editing at the SXSW film festival in Austin, Tex. 

For more info or to watch a trailer, visit http://www.pbs.org/pov/wheresoldierscomefrom/.

Topics: People