Doc Blog

Continuing our links to Real to Reel docs, Body of War has an impressive web site that includes a trailer and lots of background information. Here's an excerpt from the director's statemet by co-director Ellen Spiro (pictured here filming on location). Spiro writes:

It's June 2005. George Bush is on the radio. He's saying "My greatest responsibility as President is to protect the American people." I think, "Why do I feel more unsafe than ever?" The phone rings. It's Phil Donahue.

"Phil WHO?" I say. "Phil Donahue, I'm calling about an idea for . . . "Wait," I say, "is this a crank call?" "Don't hang up," the voice says, "I'm a friend of Dee Dee Halleck."

My mentor Dee Dee Halleck started an alternative media outlet called Paper Tiger Television and Deep Dish Satellite Network, the furthest things from corporate media imaginable. How does she know Phil Donahue, the superstar of television talk shows?

"We met on an airplane," Phil says. "I want to make a documentary about a paralyzed Iraq War veteran. I don't want a big crew. I want someone sensitive and low key, under-the-radar. Dee Dee says that's you."

I work as a one-woman crew -- very small. I've shot in women's prisons, nuclear facilities and toxic American wastelands, but never in the bedroom of a severely injured war veteran. I make films about serious issues but I always look for the humor and hope in the story.

Phil told me about Tomas Young. Tomas joined the army to find Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, was shipped to Iraq and shot in his spine. Tomas had been paralyzed, but he (and a growing number of Americans) still was not clear about why.

Phil asked me to fly to Kansas City to meet Tomas and to begin documenting his struggle to adapt to his new body. Phil didn't want big burly cameramen knocking over furniture and rearranging Tomas Young's life. I told Phil "I rarely knock over furniture."

Phil's passion was contagious. I wanted to get to know this young Midwestern man. When I talked to Tomas I knew he'd be a great documentary subject. Despite what he'd been through, he had a witty and dry sense of humor. "Soldiers voting for President Bush are like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders," he says in the film.

Continued here...
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