In an all-too-apt coincidence of timing, the harrowing Vietnam-war documentary "Winter Soldier" comes out on DVD Tuesday, just days after the mainstream news finally picked up the story of how U.S. soldiers indiscriminately murdered 24 innocent civilians in Iraq last November. (How come it took so long?) Chillingly recounted in this New York Times story that ran on Memorial Day, the massacre in Haditha is an awful reminder of how little we have learned since the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation brought to light the barbarism and inhumanity of war (and the U.S. military's penchant for covering up such injustices).
When "Winter Soldier" was first revived in theaters last August, I blogged about the film and the distributor's hopes for educating the public. Now, after increasing stories of U.S. military misconduct and human rights abuses, Millenium Films co-presidents Dennis Doros and Amy Heller's remarks sound eeriely prescient.
"Ideally, what I would really like is that people will think about the film and consider what's happening in the present, especially in terms of the tremendous civilian casualties and the treatment of POWs, which is really appalling in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq," Heller told me for a story in the Village Voice. "The Geneva Convention standard is not too high for the American military to follow. My experience talking with vets is that they see this movie and some thick twice about going to be a soldier."
"I hope people can take away from this that sometimes owning up to the truth will make us stronger and healthier," Heller said. "One of the messages we get from the current administration is that secrecy is more important than transparency, but I don't think it's doing our country any favors, or helping our soldiers much either."