Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families
(March 1, 2009)
February. 20, 2009 -- David Scantling, chief executive officer of
private equity firm Scantling Technology Ventures; Producer Norman
S. Powell; Army Capt. Isaac Rademacher, actor Gary Sinise and
filmmaker Jake Rademacher pose for photos after an advance screening
of “Brothers at War,” a film that documents Jake Rademacher's
experience in Iraq as he sought to understand what motivates his two
military brothers. (Releases on March 13, 2009)
||WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 – On location in the
Middle of Nowhere, Iraq, filmmaker Jake Rademacher focuses his lens
on a unit of young reconnaissance troops with whom he's embedded.
For five days they wait in the desert near Syria, watching idly for
smugglers bringing weapons, cash or foreign fighters across the
border. Conversation is the only thing that colors the monotony of
the blank horizon.
One soldier says he joined the ranks to make his father proud.
Another is confident his duty will benefit posterity. And a crew-cut
junior enlisted troop says through a wad
|of chewing tobacco he's not sure
why wears the uniform.
“If you find out, let me know,” he tells Rademacher. |
At the heart of Rademacher's documentary “Brothers at War” are the kind of
open-ended questions many civilians have about what U.S. servicemembers do and
why. Using his own family as a microcosm, Rademacher paints an intimate portrait
that seeks to understand the commitment and sacrifice attendant to military
The Rademacher clan represents a compelling cross-section, with two of Jake's
brothers, Isaac and Joe, serving as active-duty soldiers.
The film follows Jake to Iraq, where he shadows Isaac, a captain in the Army's
82nd Airborne Division, on his second deployment in Mosul. Jakes also walks a
mile in the shoes of Joe -- a 23-year-old staff sergeant sniper and Army Ranger
also in the 82nd Airborne -- when he joins snipers at "hide sites" in the Sunni
The culmination of Rademacher's multiple journeys to Iraq amounted to 35
interviews, 25 missions and 400 hours of tape, which he distilled into a
feature-length film. Brothers at War releases nationally on March 13, 2009.
“I wanted to dive right into the front lines,” Rademacher said at the National
Press Club here last week after an advance screening of the film. “And I learned
about my brothers through their brothers in arms.”
On the home front, the documentary illustrates the effects that repeated
deployments have on spouses and children. But the film is far from a social
commentary, and there is a distinct absence of a political or moral agenda.
After the Feb. 20 screening, Isaac revealed that Jake's motivation for making
the film was two-fold. He wanted to document Isaac's life as a memento for his
young daughter, Hunter, in case Isaac didn't return from duty.
Jake also wanted to open the eyes of the American public to the reality of the
front lines, Isaac said.
“I've never seen anything that shows so much truth and then steps away,” he
Gary Sinise, one of the film's executive producers, attended the screening along
with a group of soldiers recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.
Sinise was eager to sign onto the project after it was screened for him last
year, he said.
“Brothers at War presents such a positive depiction of military families,” he
said. “It's a great American documentary that speaks my language.”
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Pineiro, a liaison for wounded troops recovering at
Walter Reed, said he could see the emotion worn on the faces of the 10th
Mountain Division soldiers with him at the screening.
“Rademacher did an excellent job representing what the soldiers go through while
stationed in Iraq,” Pineiro said. “And you could see it on the faces of the
soldiers over here.
“Some of them you could see some emotion, some of them were reliving what they
went through over there,” he said. “It was pretty emotional.”
Article and photo by John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
Visit site of "Brothers at War" to see clips and for more information
Brothers At War
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