Monday, January 26, 2009

Documentary BROTHERS AT WAR Tells It Like It Is

Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, BROTHERS AT WAR follows one brother who has to understand why his two brothers go to Iraq ... and why they go back. Gen. Petraeus’ public affairs team screened this film in Baghdad, and at the 2008 GI Film Festival in D.C., BROTHERS AT WAR won best feature documentary.

Filmmaker Jake Rademacher’s brothers are Captain Isaac Rademacher, US Army Commander and West Point Grad, and Joseph Rademacher, Army Ranger and Sniper.

BROTHERS AT WAR opens March 13 in five cities near Ft. Bragg, Camp Lejune, and Ft. Benning.

Now here's filmmaker/brother Jake Rademacher talking about why he made the film and the response it’s getting:

Each time my brothers board the plane with rucksacks and rifles slung over their shoulders, I know it may be the last time I ever see them. After they came home from war the first time, I could see and feel the change — the new distance between us. When they told me what I was watching in 30-second blips on the news was not the same war they were fighting, I knew them well enough to know we were all missing something.

I know that journeying into a war zone may not seem like the most rational thing to do, but I felt the need to bridge the gap was that crucial.

That’s the genesis for BROTHERS AT WAR.

I have had a curiosity about war dating back to childhood. As a young boy, I read books about generals and the great battles of history. As an adolescent, I walked the field at Gettysburg and heard the words of MacArthur’s last speech echoing in my mind as I stood looking out at West Point, dreaming of being an officer one day. Later, I saw another side of war as I walked through the gates of Dachau and through Serbia during a ceasefire.

Now I have been shot at and IED’d. I have watched men’s blood wet the dirt and seen battle-hardened warriors break down in tears as they relate an experience or talk about those they love. I have come to know war in a more intimate and deep way.

BROTHERS AT WAR has been the most terrifying, soul searching, and gratifying thing I have ever done. Through it all, I have tried to hold the mirror up to nature, or rather put the frame around it as it happened in front of me.

I started this film for my brother Isaac. I finished it for the guys I met along the way. Now, I am invigorated by the positive impact I’ve seen it have on audiences — especially other military families who also need to reconnect.

We set out to make a film without stock footage, political pundits or anyone talking about an experience they weren’t currently living. I knew it would require me to risk everything—my life — to succeed. I imagined but had no idea the transformation making this film would have on me.

While the laughter, the tears, and the standing ovations with which the film has been greeted are deeply gratifying, the real reward is the thank you from a Gold Star mother, the tears that come from a battle-hardened warrior trying to relate what the film means to him — feedback I’ve received from warriors and their families about the impact the film has had on their healing process.

Now people can see why I think the best part of my generation is currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their deeds inspire me. I hope that we can all admire those who pull from deep within and strive mightily for something greater than themselves. I am humbled by what I have witnessed.

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