Filmmaker follows his brothers to Operation Iraqi Freedom
March 23, 2009
- War documentary, Brothers at War, chronicles quest to understand service, deployment
- Filmmaker follows his brothers to Operation Iraqi Freedom
- 'Thank you for opening my eyes'
- Soldiers, family members attend film premiere
At the Friday premiere of the documentary film Brothers at War at Carmike 15 Cinemas in Columbus, these two words were spoken often - filmmakers thanked Soldiers for their service, and Soldiers thanked filmmakers for producing a film many of them called an accurate and honest depiction of their experiences in Iraq.
Brothers at War, directed by Jake Rademacher, chronicles his quest to understand what motivates his brothers, Joe and Isaac Rademacher, to serve and deploy with the U.S. Army. Rademacher travels to Iraq, where he embeds with four combat units and gains unprecedented access to their missions and work. He also explores how Joe's and Isaac's deployments affect the families they left behind.
Columbus is one of five largely military markets chosen for Friday's limited release. Jake Rademacher and actor Gary Sinise, the film's executive producer, were on hand at the premiere to greet Soldiers, family members and fans.
"I'm just excited to see the movie," said SSG Alex Marotta, Ranger Training Brigade. Marotta, who was deployed to the same area of Iraq as Joe Rademacher during filming, said he was surprised to learn he makes a brief appearance in the film.
"Apparently I'm helping Jake pack for going out (on a mission)," he said. "I don't know how that's going to affect my perception of the movie, but I'm just looking forward to actually seeing it. I was really happy to find out it's getting this much publicity. You don't see a whole lot of documentaries about the wars, so it's good to see something coming out like this, and with such positive press behind it, too."
A select group of Soldiers and family members viewed a special sneak peek of the film before its first public showing at Carmike 15, and participated in a question and answer session with Jake Rademacher, Sinise and producers David Scantling and Norman S. Powell. For some Soldiers, it was an opportunity to candidly share their own motivation for serving.
"I'm probably not just speaking for myself when I say this, but I want to thank you for putting yourself in harm's way to shed some positive light on the subject," said PV2 Carl Parson, Ranger Indoctrination Program, to Rademacher. "Most people don't understand what we're really doing over there ... (the film) helped me kind of rekindle why I joined. I joined initially because I'm from up north and I lost a friend in 9/11 ... it shows a much more uplifting view than what they show on the news."
SSG Joe Rademacher, a sniper instructor at Fort Benning, agreed with Parsons.
"I think one of the biggest problems with the media is they don't understand that we don't want to hear the story from them, we want to hear the story from the Soldiers who are fighting," he said. "And that's what's so different about Jake's film (versus) everything that's been put out about (the war) so far."
For PV2 Gavin Mueller, 198th Infantry Brigade, Brothers at War allowed him to view Iraq through his father's perspective.
"My dad just got back from Iraq, and I didn't really realize how it was over there for him knowing that he has a family back home," Mueller said to Jake Rademacher. "And seeing how your brother (Isaac) was about his daughter and his wife, it made me think that maybe that's how my dad felt when he was over there. Thank you for opening my eyes."
That kind of personal connection to Brothers at War is exactly what its filmmakers were aiming for, said Sinise, who has visited troops in Iraq many times.
"I think (people at Fort Benning) will recognize their own lives in this film," he said. "It's really a film for them. It shows the military side that I see when I go out time after time on base after base and spend time with their families and see the dedication of the people we have serving the country."
Jake Rademacher said he was happy to be able to tell the service members' stories.
"I think that at the end of the day, Soldiers, Marines, National Guardsmen - all those guys really do want their story told, they just want it told honestly," he said. "Put a frame around what's actually happening and send it back to the American people. That was my take."