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Where Soldiers Come From

by Heather Courtney

From a snowy small town in northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war.

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From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war. 

Winner of a 2011 Emmy and the Independent Spirit Award, WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM is an intimate look at the young men who fight our wars and the families and town they come from.  Returning to her hometown, Director Heather Courtney gains extraordinary access following these young men as they grow and change from teenagers stuck in their town, to National Guard soldiers looking for roadside bombs in Afghanistan, to 23-year-old veterans dealing with the silent war wounds of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD.

Enticed by a $20,000 signing bonus and the college tuition support, best friends Dominic and Cole join the National Guard after graduating from their rural high school.  After persuading several of their friends to join them, the young men are sent to Afghanistan, where they spend their days sweeping for roadside bombs.  By the time their deployment ends, they are no longer the carefree group of friends they were before enlisting; repeated bombs blowing up around their convoys have led to TBI symptoms, and they have all become increasingly disillusioned about their mission.

The challenges really begin to surface when they return to their families and communities in Michigan.  WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM looks beyond the guns and policies of an ongoing war to tell a human story about family, friendship, and community and how they all change when young people go off to fight.

WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM is a co-production of Quincy Hill Films and ITVS, in association with American Documentary | POV.  The film had its national broadcast premiere in Fall 2011 on PBS’s award-winning documentary series POV, and had an encore broadcast in September 2012.


quote“Quietly devastating… In its compassionate, modest gaze, the real cost of distant political decisions is softly illuminated, as well as the shame of a country with little to offer its less fortunate young people than a ticket to a battlefield.”
Jeannette Catsoulis
New York Times

quote"a powerfully realistic portrait of contemporary soldiers in war. Highly recommended."
C. Cassady
Video Librarian

quote"Hauntingly beautiful and deeply felt ... Some of the best Afghan War-related storytelling I've seen."
Hank Stuever
The Washington Post


  • Emmy Award 2011
  • Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award 2012
  • Jury Award, SXSW Film Festival 2011
  • Best Documentary, Philadelphia Film Festival 2011
  • Founders Award, Best U.S. Documentary, Traverse City Film Festival 2011

Visit the official website for Where Soldiers Come From

Where Soldiers Come From

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Appropriate for: High School College/University

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Where Soldiers Come From is on ScreeningHQ! Click here to visit this film's ScreeningHQ page if you're interested in hosting a screening.

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We have a "high school" version of the film, which is basically the PBS version that has all of the swears bleeped out, so some high school teachers and community groups might find this more appropriate for their audiences.  It is essentially the same film except for that and about 9 minutes shorter.

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