In honor of Veterans Day, this week’s Indiewire-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page look at the real-life stories of soldiers and the impact they have back at home.
Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein followed up their acclaimed “Gunner Palace” with “How to Fold a Flag.” The doc offers insight into both the aftermath of war on soldiers and how our country is dealing with the legacy of the unpopular Iraq War. They reveal a nation torn between government policy and those directly subjected to those decisions on the frontline who must struggle even upon their return.
The after-effects of war are at the heart of Dan Lohaus’ “When I Came Home,” about Iraq War veteran Herold Noel. Noel suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder but is denied veteran’s benefits and ends up living in his car, an unfortunately not atypical situation for many vets. Though he attempts to use the media to call attention to his plight, bureaucratic red tape continues to stand in the way of addressing this shameful issue.
The spectre of combat hangs over Leon Cooper in Steven C Barber’s “Return to Tarawa.” The World War II veteran is drawn back to the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war, which he took part in more than six decades ago. He is outraged to discover that the hallowed ground has long since been neglected, and sets out to restore this landmark to America’s fallen soldiers.
An increasing number of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have channeled their wartime experiences through the emerging sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Matthew Hickney’s “Walking to the Cage” profiles three fighters, including ex-marine Jeff, who serves not only as a participant but as an inspirational mentor to younger aspiring hopefuls.
It’s not just the soldiers themselves who must contend with war – it also affects those on the homefront. Aron Gaudet’s “The Way We Get By” profiles three senior citizens who volunteer welcoming American troops returning from combat and seeing off those heading into it. At the same time, this moving film wrestles with issues of aging, mortality, and purpose.
Varda Hardy’s “Visiting Shane” also addresses mortality in its candid story of a young dying veteran. Learning of her son’s terminal condition, Andrea found help and healing from hospice volunteers who helped Shane live his last months with dignity and fullness.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Indiewire @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the Indiewire-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. iW selections typically appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge. Disclosure: Some of the selections are titles provided to Hulu by SnagFilms, the parent company of indieWIRE.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance and a consultant to documentary filmmakers and festivals. Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).