I tell ya, there's so much still to learn about the black experience during WWII (broadly-speaking), and I'm glad to see that more current films centered on stories about the black experience from that specific period, are being made; although we still have a long way to go.
Like this one, which I only learned about today, although it's been in circulation for about year now, since its it's North American premiere at the WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA, in February 2011; in that same month, it aired nationwide on National Geographic Channel.
Titled The Wereth Eleven, and of course based on a true story, it's described as...
... an epic docudrama... that retraces the steps of the 11 soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion who escaped The 18th Volksgrenadiers after their unit was overrun at the start of the Battle of the Bulge. Their 10-mile trek from their battery position to Wereth, Belgium led them to refuge with a Belgian family until a Nazi sympathizer revealed their presence to an SS Reconn Patrol. The soldiers surrendered, but were taken to a field, where they were tortured, maimed, and shot on Dec. 17, 1944. The killings were investigated, but never prosecuted.
And thankfully, this didn't sit very well with exec producer of the film Joseph Small, who then spent two years after he heard the above story, researching the events that took place on the fateful day. Small eventually enlisted the help of writer and directors, Robert Child and Frederic Lumiere (who edited the film) to bring the gut wrenching story to the screen.
The filmmakers then set out to elevate war documentary recreations to a new level, as the press release states. The film contains "stunning Hollywood-grade visual effects," interviews with people who were there, and archival footage.
In one of the archival films, captured men of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion are paraded for German propaganda. After some investigating, one of the men was identified and interviewed: Retired Staff Sergeant George Shomo. Now 90 years old and a resident of northern New Jersey, Shomo offers a shocking and brutally honest personal account of what it was like to be an African American in World War II.
“As a black soldier in the United States Army, you weren’t as good as a dog,” stated Shomo. Outnumbered 10 to one, Shomo and his fellow soldiers were left behind to fight the Germans. “We fired until we ran out of ammunition. It’s hard when a man's got a rifle coming at you and all you got is a trench knife. But I got a couple (of men) and some of the other guys got a couple. I'd say the Germans had to walk over piles of their dead to get to us.”
A memorial now stands on the site of the soldier’s murders, dedicated to the Wereth 11 and all African-American soldiers who fought in The European Theatre. It is believed to be the only memorial to African-American soldiers of World War II in Europe.
The film played the film festival circuit last year, leading up to a DVD release in the fall of 2011. I looked it up to find that it's available on Amazon as a DVD and on VOD, but it's not on Netflix. So if you're interested in seeing it, head over to Amazon HERE.
Or, as reader "me" pointed out in the comments section below, it's also on Hulu! I embedded it below, so you can watch it right here, right now!
It's also still playing the film festival circuit, based on what I read on the film's Facebook page, screening at the Philadelphia International Film Festival last month, where it won the Leigh Whipper Gold Award for documentary.
I'm going to watch it sometime this week I hope, with all that I already have to watch. But I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.
In the meantime, check out the trailer below for a sample of what you'll see; and underneath that you'll find the Hulu player with the full film in it:
And here's the film in full: