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Film Update

Filmmakers Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg write in with an update on the film and its characters.

  • October 14, 2008

Soldiers of Conscience premiered in April 2007 at the Atlanta Film Festival and has since screened at more than 20 domestic and international film festivals, winning four "best documentary" awards.

Because this film has a mission — to spark conversation and encourage healing around the taboo topic of killing in war — we have focused on building relationships with community and professional groups who care about issues like this. Our goal is to share this film as a useful resource to support and amplify the work already being done in communities, congregations and VA medical centers around the country. See a list of some of our key partners below.

Over the past year and a half, we have held special community screenings and conversations around the country — including a "Week of Conscience" in the greater Seattle area, where more than 25 church and community groups held screenings and discussions around the issues raised by the film. Upcoming screenings include colleges, congregations, local libraries, and the national conference of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

We remain in contact with the soldiers who shared their stories with us for this project.

Kevin Benderman

Kevin Benderman was released from the Fort Lewis Brig after 13 months imprisonment. He now lives in Hinesville, GA with his wife, Monica. His book is Letters from Fort Lewis Brig (Lyon's Press, 2007).






Soldiers of Conscience: Joshua Casteel

Joshua Casteel is completing an MFA at the University of Iowa. Now a Catholic, Joshua traveled with a delegation of Catholic leaders to meet with the Pope in March 2007. His book, Letters from Abu Ghraib, was published this year (Essay Press, 2008).





Aidan Delgado

Aidan Delgado is currently pursuing a law degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. His book is The Sutras of Abu Ghraib (Beacon Press, 2007).







Pete Kilner

Major Pete Kilner is now Lt. Col. Pete Kilner. He received his doctorate degree and continues to teach at West Point. He was deployed to Iraq and will deploy to Afghanistan this winter. He also publishes a blog entitled "Thoughts of a Soldier-Ethicist." His book is CompanyCommand: Unleashing the Power of the Army Profession (The Center for the Advancement of Leader Development & Organizational Learning, 2005).


Camilo Mejia

Camilo Mejia is co-chair of the board of directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He currently lives in Sunny Isles Beach, FL. His book is Road from Ar Ramadi (The New Press, 2007).






1st Sgt. Todd Savage officially retired from the Army on September 1, 2008 after more than 15 years of military service. He is now the co-owner of Champion Arms, an indoor shooting range in Kent, Washington.

PARTNERS:

We are truly honored that a wide array of organizations are working with us to put the film to important use. Below is a partial list of our ongoing partnerships.

National VA Chaplain Center
The Center will begin distributing copies of Soldiers of Conscience to chaplain training programs at 21 VA Medical Centers across the country for use as educational resources. The Center also plans to use the film during their quarterly orientation trainings as well as focus area trainings on subjects such as PTSD.

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
We're working with UUSC, a national human rights and social justice organization, to engage their 50,000 members around using the film as a resource for their educational and advocacy work. Members will be encouraged to host viewing parties, plan community screenings and make their voices heard at the national level on issues related to the film.

The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE)
We're working with ACPE to share news about the film as a resource for their nationwide network of 350 Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Centers and 600 CPE Supervisors. ACPE is a multicultural, multifaith organization devoted to providing education and improving the quality of ministry and pastoral care offered by spiritual caregivers of all faiths.

1000 Voices Archive Project
We're working with the 1000 Voices Archive to share excerpts of the film as online resources for sparking conversations about American values with individuals and communities across the nation. The Archive is a curated, national collection of video stories created by filmmakers and communities across the country.

National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces (NCMAF)
We're partnering with NCMAF to use the film to spark discussion among military chaplains — including screening the film at the organization's upcoming national meeting in January 2009. NCMAF includes 60 Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominations and represents 5,430 of the 7,620 chaplains serving in the us Armed Forces.

The Episcopal Church — Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies
We're working with the Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies to use the film as a resource for sparking discussion among chaplains and church leaders — including screenings at upcoming conferences.

San Francisco VA Medical Center — PTSD Program
We're working with staff clinicians in the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Program to explore potential use of non-graphic, interview excerpts from the film as group counseling resources for Operation Iraqi Freedom / Operation Enduring Freedom veterans.

VA Medical Centers — Staff Training
We're working with staff members at VA medical centers to use the film as a professional development resource for training suicide prevention staff and social workers.

Episcopal Diocese of California
With strong support from Bishop Marc Andrus, the Diocese of California has partnered with us to engage Episcopal leaders across the country — and to facilitate public screenings at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, as well as a clergy and lay leaders screening at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, CA.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
We're working with AFSC to explore opportunities for screening the film with youth and young adults — helping them to examine and discuss their personal feelings about conscience, war and military service.

Presbyterian Church USA — Peacemaking Program
We're working with the PC (USA) Peacemaking Program to share news about the film as a resource for clergy and lay leaders seeking to address issues of conscience and war in their congregations.





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All too often we point our fingers at nations and presidents and huge institutions as if they are responsible for everything. We believe that is only partly true. Each one of us is also hugely responsible.”

— Gary Weimberg & Catherine Ryan, Filmmakers