Bodies of War
Body of War, the critically acclaimed anti-war documentary film from talk show host Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro, is set for release on April 9. CAHIR O'DOHERTY talks to the legendary Irish American host about the path to the war in Iraq and its unforeseen consequences.
AT the White House on Sunday President George W. Bush claimed that the outcome of the Iraq war would merit the sacrifice. Within hours of his speech the U.S. toll passed the sad milestone of 4,000 dead. Then on Monday the White House announced that 140,000 troops would remain stationed in Iraq throughout 2008, clearly signaling that a wind down or exit strategy are not being contemplated.
For Phil Donahue, 70, the legendary Irish American talk show host, the U.S. presence in Iraq is an international rolling nightmare from which he hopes the nation will soon awake.
On April 9, in a move that some have called unlikely, he will ring the alarm bells himself by releasing a remarkably powerful new documentary film that outlines the war's discreetly hidden cost: thousands of young American lives lost.
Body of War, co-directed by Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro, opens at next month at the IFC cinema in New York. A jolting documentary about the effects of the war, the film focuses on one 28-year-old soldier, Tomas Young, and on his family and friends.
A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Young enlisted in the Army in 2001, just two days after 9/11. Assuming he'd be sent to Afghanistan to fight Al-Qaeda, the gung-ho 25-year-old at the time was surprised to find himself deployed to the notorious Sadr City in 2004 after Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.
Traveling in an unarmored vehicle, his unit was ambushed. With a single shot from above Young was instantly paralyzed for life from his chest down.
A true blue patriot, it was only during his long-term medical treatment that Young began to question the motives behind the Iraq war and the decisions that sent him and other troops there.
Body of War is his homecoming story, intimately captured over three years. We see the devastating effects of Tomas' injury upon his new marriage, including the daily physical and emotional toll it leaves him with, and we encounter the shocking lack of adequate healthcare for Iraq war veterans.
Although the film focuses closely on the political decision making that led to the war, Body of War is at its strongest when it unflinchingly catalogues what it's like for Young to face the everyday challenges of adjusting to his new disability. Eventually and movingly, we watch as Young finds his own passionate voice as he becomes a member and speaker with Iraq Veterans against the War (IVAW).
Donahue calls Body of War a movie about a drama that is taking place behind closed doors in thousands of homes in America. Homes that are occupied by patriotic brave young men and women who have come back from this war with life altering injuries (29,451 wounded, according to the AP press count).
Many of these injuries are hideous, much worse than injuries sustained in past wars because Army triage strategies have improved.
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