Last night, I had the opportunity to drive down to San Antonio for a screening of the new documentary Brothers At War. I thank Soldiers' Angels for the treat. I had to decide whether to see the movie in Killeen or San Antonio. The theater in San Antonio was about 10 miles closer, plus I didn't have to drive across Austin during rush hour traffic, and I got to see Jim & Gerry Riley from Soldiers' Angels again. I had meet them three or four years ago when I volunteered to help out at a golf tournament benefiting wounded warriors that was held at a country club out in Boerne.
There were 4 screenings yesterday. I chose the one at 7:30. I was substitute teaching, so I couldn't go to either of the afternoon screenings, and since I had to drive back to Austin after the movie, the 10:15 screening was out of the question. I called Jim when I got to the theater about 7 o'clock, and he met me at the box office. Entering the auditorium in which Brothers At War was showing, there were already a lot of people there. The Santikos is one of the theaters where you can order a meal to eat while you watch your movie. Jim had already laid claim to the seats in the last row at the back, so I sat in the next row up. Since I'd grabbed something to eat after school, all I ordered was some popcorn and a bottle of water. Jim, being the outgoing person that he is, spoke up and asked who in the audience was Active Duty. After a number of people raised their hands, Jim told the waitstaff to get them all popcorn and soda. Jim also informed me that, although the link from the Brothers At War website indicated the movie was only showing on the 27th, it is actually showing at the Santikos Bijou at Crossroads (in the Crossroads Mall inside Loop 410 and I-10) through Thursday, April 2nd. So, just because the showtimes only list one date, check to see how many days it is actually showing, if it is coming to your area (it's in Killeen through Thursday, as well).
The auditorium was nicely filled. I was glad to see that. I'm really bad at guessing numbers, but I'd say it was at least75% full - a respectable showing, I thought, for a movie that hasn't been highly publicized outside certain circles. I went into this movie not knowing anyone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan outside of the friends I've made on the internet, the vast majority of whom I have never meet in person. I don't know what it's like to have someone close to me in a combat zone. And, I certainly can't say I know what it's like to actually be in a combat zone.
In this movie, we meet the Rademacher family. Jake, the oldest son, is a filmmaker. Two of his brothers, Isaac and Joe, are in the Army. Isaac is a West Point grad and a Captain with the 82nd Airborne. Joe, a sniper, is a sergeant, and is also assigned to the 82nd Airborne. Isaac and Joe had both served in Iraq. Growing up, Jake had wanted to go to West Point and be a soldier, but couldn't get accepted. Now, he wanted to understand what it was his brothers did and why. Since he'd become a filmmaker, he arranged to embed with combat units, embedding with Isaac's unit for a time, and also with a sniper team, in addition to spending some time with Marines mentoring an Iraqi Army unit. He documented that experience in Iraq, as well as what it is like for those left behind: their parents, the other siblings, and the wife and girlfriend.
I was able to watch this movie with a bit of detachment, since I wasn't watching something I've had to personally confront: having a family member go off to war. What Jake documents while with the Iraqi Army unit - coming under ambush - demonstrates some of what our troops experience and see - to include a brief glimpse at the damage modern weapons can do to the human body.
In addition to talking to his family, Jake also speaks with the soldiers and Marines he comes into contact with. A soldier who lost a friend, but wasn't ready to talk about it. Soldiers talking about the mail they get from people back home. He talks with the soldiers during their down-time on a surveillance mission near the Syrian border. There is no politics to this movie. Just those who serve, in their own words, expressing why they do what they do, and what they think about when they are deployed; just the thoughts of the Rademacher family back on the home front, explaining what it is like for them to have a son, husband/fiance or brother in a combat zones.
All in all, I highly recommend this film. If it is coming to your area, please make the effort to go see it. If you are in the San Antonio area, and would like to see it this week, email me (address on the sidebar), and I can put you in touch with someone who might be able to help out with getting you in to see the movie. This movie needs to be seen at those theaters in which is it already scheduled to screen. It needs to do well now in order to have a chance of being shown more widely around the country. This is a film more Americans need to be given the opportunity to see.
I received a notice on facebook today that the movie will be opening in additional cities this weekend:
Osio Cinema in Monterey, CA
Cinemark Carefree Circle in Colorado Springs, CO
Regal Augusta Exchange in Augusta, GA
Cinemark Tinseltown 17 in Shreveport, LA
Carmike 16 in El Paso, TX