With Soldiers of Conscience, filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg confront the question of what it means for a person to kill another human being. As told through the eyes of both active military personnel and conscientious objectors, the film presents a dramatic window on the dilemma facing individual U.S. soldiers in the current Iraq War — when their finger is on the trigger and another human being is in their gun-sight.
Made with official permission of the U.S. Army, the film profiles eight American soldiers, including four who become conscientious objectors; and four who believe in their duty to kill if necessary. The film shows all of them wrestling with the morality of killing in war, not as an abstract philosophical issue, but as a reality that soldiers experience — a split-second decision in combat that can never be forgotten or undone.
In their filmmaker letter, Catherine and Gary talk about how all soldiers are “soldiers of conscience,” whether they are conscientious objectors or war-fighters:
[W]e came to see the profound agreement between the sincere war-fighters and the sincere conscientious objectors. Both understand the horror of having to kill. In fact, when thinking about killing, these two types of soldiers actually agree more than they disagree. We hope that when soldiers and veterans view the film, that they will come to the same conclusion — seeing their own common ground and learning to honor and respect each other more, even when they do disagree.
Read more from Catherine and Gary’s filmmaker interview with POV
Do you have a question for Catherine and Gary? Leave it in the comment field below or join them in a live chat on PBS Engage this Friday, Oct. 16th at 1 pm ET, and they will answer your questions.