Critical Acclaim for ‘Where Soldiers Come From’ – Airs 11/10 on PBS

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Where Soldiers Come From

Where Soldiers Come From
premieres Nov. 10, 2011 on POV

Read what critics have to say about the POV documentary Where Soldiers Come From, which follows the four-year journey of childhood friends who join the National Guard after graduating from high school. Watch Where Soldiers Come From now (for free) on the PBS mobile app, or tune in to its U.S. broadcast premiere on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, on PBS stations. (Check local listings.)

“A heartbreakingly lived-in portrait… Packs a savage, but understated, punch.”
Andrew Barker, Variety

“In its compassionate, modest gaze, the real cost of distant political decisions is softly illuminated, as well as the shame of a country with little to offer its less fortunate young people than a ticket to a battlefield.”
Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

“Courtney embeds with the soldiers, and her footage (and the way she has assembled it) is some of the best Afghanistan war-related storytelling I’ve seen…I watched Where Soldiers Come From twice — it was that good.”
Hank Stuever, The Washington Post

“…it was more than a little surprising, after so many different takes on the issue, to sense something revelatory emerging in Where Soldiers Come From, director Heather Courtney’s emotional and engrossing portrait of America’s bravest.”
James Snyder, TIME

“Haunting and compassionate… What makes Where Soldiers Come From so unusual is the relaxed and intelligent way that it connects the private and public experience of war… The movie plays like an elegant real-life answer to The Best Years of Our Lives and The Deer Hunter.”
Matt Zoller Seitz, Salon

“[Heather] Courtney avoids all political posturing here, something rare in modern war documentaries. These are the guys, American kids. This is the war, it’s awful. And this is what happens. In your own backyard.”
Tom Long, The Detroit News

“[A] significant, moving, saddening portrayal of the effects of war on the nation’s young men.”
Charles Ealy, Austin 360

“The war-weary public might not want another movie on this topic, but as a current-day, real-life Best Years of Our Lives or Deer Hunter (the latter referenced by one of the moms), this is the one to see.Eric Monder, Film Journal International

Where Soldiers Come From is so moving, so compelling, because it tells the stories of these engaging young men who are trying to find their way to a positive future.”
Jennifer Merin,

“Intriguing, personal war docu, about small-town soldiers stuck between boyhood and manhood; a good companion piece to the fictionalized The Deer Hunter, to which this work makes reference.Emanuel Levy,

“I was really, really, really blown away… It really distinguishes itself from other films I’ve seen about Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Jake Perlin, BAMcinématek programmer

“Watch it not only because it is fine documentary by an experienced and talented filmmaker, and not only because it is a film about men in war, but watch it and think, ‘Could we have done more for them and their communities, given them more choices before they left, and how can we help them when they come home?’”
Lt. Col. Robert Mackey (Ret.), Huffington Post

Watch Where Soldiers Come From now on the PBS mobile app or on television this Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 9 PM on many PBS stations. (Check local listings.)

Emily Thomas
Emily Thomas
Emily Thomas is a Fall 2011 intern with POV Digital. She's interned at Esquire magazine and Vice magazine. Currently Emily is finishing her senior year at NYU, where she is double majoring in journalism and social & cultural analysis. She is also a freelance journalist and aspiring documentary filmmaker. Her top five documentaries are: 1. Buena Vista Social Club (Wim Wenders) 2. Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh) 3. Crumb (Terry Zwigoff) 4. Dont Look Back (D A Pennebaker) 5. Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston)
  • dj

    I went to high school with all of these guys, and I definitely see changes in them since being in Afghanistan. It’s sad but all of these guys have talent and loving families and while there lives will never be the same, they will always have the support and love from our community

  • Pearl

    What a wonderful documentary! It is sad that for sacrificing their lives, their families, their sanity, we have nothing in return to offer these young people. The corporate war machine does not care about life! Luckily some of these vets have supportive families and loved ones around them. What happens to the soldiers that cannot deal with reality when they come home? It is a shame what the government has done! Our hearts and praers go out to you and your families! BRING THEM ALL HOME!

  • Advocatedorie

    I feel this is a very true story! My son in law went to Iraq with the 1431st and then was deployed back to Afghanistan with these men. He was sent home due to injuries he suffered in Iraq. He has the same symptoms as these young men along with severe back injuries from the same jobs in this film. I am just ashamed at the way the Army has treated our young men without supporting them in health, and education issues. They are suffering and it is sad that our country has turned them into bitter young men that see no viable out for their future. They came from strong loving families in a small community, and the men, families and the communities are all feeling the pain and confusion. We can as a country take our money and go to these countries and build buildings but we cannot provide services to these young men who help these countries out also and returned with destroyed  lives. Shame on you America! I am proud of these men and I will always support my son in law, proud of you JW! And thank you 1431st!

  • connie

    I felt that this was the most human and educative film I’ve seen about young men becoming soldiers.  Really excellent.  I cared about them, about the children in Afghanistan and very much about the families.  I am the mom of a vet from OIF.

  • Edwards017

    Thank you for this gripping story of survivors of war and their journey. Ms. Courtney’s gentle reveal of the struggles of Michigan soldiers and their loved ones was stunning.  Making sense of battle scars in the contrasting pastoral setting of upper Michigan made it even more poignant. It is true that many of us are disengaged with these wars, and I for one was brought back into the conversation.