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New American Soldier

by Emma Cott, Anna Belle Peevey

Fighting for America. Fighting to become American.

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New American Soldier follows three immigrant soldiers through training and deployment, as they take steps towards US citizenship. Clarissa Calderón emigrated from Peru as a young girl, and didn’t think of enlisting until a recruiter told her the Army would pay for medical school. Seth Donkor won the visa lottery in Ghana, and is now living out his Rambo fantasy as a private in the US Army. For Victor Toledo Pulido, whose family walked across the US-Mexico border when he was seven, the Army offered a way out of the farmlands of California's Central Valley.

New American Soldier contemplates two of the most debated issues in US politics today: immigration and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through the stories of real people on the front lines, this powerful documentary gives us a better understanding of the people who are fighting this war, and what it means to be American.

quote"New American Soldier" is an eye-opener. By telling the life and death experiences of several immigrants who joined the US military, this film sheds new light on the meaning of citizenship.
Mae Ngai, Author, "Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America"

quoteThis is a powerful film. Its honesty moved me at the gut level, as an immigrant and a Vietnam veteran. It is sure to resonate with anyone interested in America and the integration debate.
Edward Schumacher-Matos Director, Harvard Migration and Integration Studies Project, Kennedy School of Government

quoteAt a time when the country is deeply divided over immigration, Cott and Peevey show us that throughout our history, people born abroad have gained citizenship and expanded rights by military service. The stories of today's men and women of diverse backgrounds remind us of the immense contributions immigrants have made to our country.
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University.

quote"New American Soldier" will open your eyes to how the military has long provided a crucial entryway to American citizenship. Beautifully told through engaging portraits of aspiring citizens, this film demonstrates that the nation's recruitment of foot soldiers to fight today's wars in the Middle East cannot be separated from the difficulties immigrants face becoming naturalized citizens. For those willing to pay the price, war is the golden door.
Lizabeth Cohen, Chair, Department of History, Harvard University

quoteA realistic and compelling portrait of the experience of non-citizens in the US Armed Forces.
Margaret D. Stock, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Reserve

More Reviews


  • Winner, San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Audience Award for Best Short Documentary

  • Winner, Red Rock Film Festival, Best Short Documentary

  • Official Selection, Tribeca International Film Festival

  • Winner, College Television Awards, Documentary

  • Honorable Mention, Orlando Hispanic Film Festival, Best Short Documentary

  • Winner, Best Short Documentary, Carolina Film and Video Festival

  • Honorable Mention, Angelus Student Film Festival, Best Short Documentary 

  • Official Selection, United Nations Association Film Festival

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New American Soldier

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