Winner of an 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.
“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.”
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.
"Hauntingly beautiful and deeply felt ... Some of the best Afghan War-related storytelling I've seen ... I watched “Where Soldiers Come From” twice — it was that good."
"A powerfully realistic portrait of contemporary soldiers in war. Highly recommended."
“The last 10 years have produced an array of documentaries about post-9/11 America, but few are as haunting and compassionate as Heather Courtney’s ‘Where Soldiers Come From ... what makes “Where Soldiers Come From” so unusual is the relaxed and intelligent way that it connects the private and public experience of war."