Synopsis by Mark Deming
Filmmaker Heather Courtney follows three friends as they go from teenagers with few prospects to military veterans in this documentary. Matt Beaudoin, Dominic Fredianelli, and Cole Smith have known each other since they were kids growing up in Hancock, a small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Hancock is in an economic slump that's made it difficult to find work and none of the guys can afford college on their own, so not long after graduating from high school, they sign up for the National Guard in hopes of earning money for school. Just as they expected, the three young men are promptly called up for military service, and Where Soldiers Come From follows them as they receive their basic training and are sent to Afghanistan, patrolling roadways looking for improvised explosive devices. The film charts their evolving attitudes about the war and American foreign policy as they see how it works up close, as well as their sometimes tense relationships with their families, who aren't certain the young men will ever come home. Director Courtney also documents the soldiers' return to civilian life and the differences their years in uniform have made. Where Soldiers Come From won the Jury Prize for Best Documentary Editing at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival.
basic-training [military], emotional-problems, military, peninsula, soldier