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'Brothers at War" takes intimate look at combat life

Nov. 6--"I've been waiting for this film since the early days of the war," writes Roger Ebert about "Brothers at War," which he calls an "honest, on-the-ground documentary" about American soldiers fighting in Iraq.


By John Beifuss, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

The Samuel Goldwyn Films release screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Malco's Stage Cinema, 7930 U.S. 64. Admission is $7, or $5 with military ID.

The screening was organized by On Location: Memphis, a group "dedicated to promoting education, cultural diversity, and economic development through cinema arts," according to its mission statement. The organization is known for its annual On Location: Memphis International Film Fest, held in April.

"Brothers at War" is an intimate, first-person chronicle of filmmaker Jake Rademacher's trip to Iraq, where he was embedded with combat troops in an attempt to understand the experiences and motivations of his two soldier brothers, serving in the Army in Iraq.

Shot during what the filmmaker describes as "the darkest hours of the insurgency," before the troop surge of 2007, the movie's "cast" includes National Guard snipers, Army Intelligence spies and Marines training Iraqi soldiers to be responsible for their own "battle space."

One of the film's executive producers is Gary Sinise, awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush in 2008 for his support of U.S. troops and efforts to improve the lives of Iraqi schoolchildren.

Some critics have labeled the film a vanity project for its director and an apology for the war; but most reviewers have praised the movie for taking audiences deeper into the daily lives of the soldiers than previous Iraq documentaries. Ebert writes that the film is "not pro or anti-war ... It is simply about men and women...," with the filmmaker inviting audiences to see the soldiers' war "as more of a reality and less of an abstraction."

For more information, visit onlocationmemphis.org and brothersatwarmovie.com