2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: LEGION OF BROTHERS

legion of brothersLEGION OF BROTHERS
Greg Barker hears from Green Berets about their secret missions to overthrow the Taliban after 9/11.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Immediately after the September 11 attacks, the United States government initiated a secret war in Afghanistan. Fewer than a hundred Special Forces soldiers, building a coalition with the rebels of the Northern Alliance, faced off against the Taliban and succeeded in driving them out of power by the end of the year – with minimal coalition casualties and without conventional, large-scale military operations. Despite this victory, the US and its allies soon became mired in a seemingly never-ending war.

Acclaimed filmmaker Greg Barker (MANHUNT: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE HUNT FOR BIN LADEN, 2013 Sundance Film Festival) expertly reveals this unexplored story, drawing on unprecedented access to several of the Green Berets who played pivotal roles in these covert missions. Driven by a sense of justice, these soldiers left family members in the dark as they set off to serve as Afghanistan’s liberators, only to confront the tragic realities of war. Reflecting on their experiences – and on the brothers-in-arms they lost – these elite soldiers offer at once a riveting celebration of valor and a sobering, cautionary tale.

Some Background:
Director/Producer:

Producers:

  • John Battsek
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    WE ARE X (2016)
    DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD (2015)
    CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM (2015)
    LISTEN TO ME MARLON (2015)
    CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART (2014)
    THE GREEN PRINCE (2014)
    HAPPY VALLEY (2014)
    WE ARE THE GIANT

    Passion Pictures’ John Battsek has regularly debuted projects at the festival, and has produced all of Barker’s feature docs since SERGIO.

  • Peter Bergen
    Past Sundance docs:

    MANHUNT

    Bergen is a noted journalist and author. His previous books have been the basis for MANHUNT and HOMEGROWN.

  • Tresha Mabile
    This marks Mabile’s first Sundance credit. She has previously directed and produced films on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for National Geographic, CNN, and Discovery, including a collaboration with Bergen.

Co-Producer:

  • Diane Becker
    Past Sundance docs:

    WE ARE X (producer)
    WE ARE THE GIANT (line producer)
    MANHUNT
    SERGIO (associate producer)

    Becker also produced Barker’s HOMEGROWN.

Associate Producer:

  • Tyler Gurd
    This is Gurd’s first Sundance film. He previously was an assistant editor on HOMEGROWN.

Supervising Producer:

Executive Producers:

  • Amy Entelis and Vinnie Malhotra
    Past Sundance docs:

    FRESH DRESSED
    THE HUNTING GROUND
    LIFE ITSELF
    IVORY TOWER
    WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA VS JAMES J BULGER
    DINOSAUR 13

    Entelis is CNN’s EVP for talent and content development. Malhotra was a CNN Films exec from 2012-2015 before moving over to Showtime, where he is Senior VP of documentaries, unscripted, and sports programming.

Editor:

  • Robin Schwartz
    This marks Schwartz’s first documentary credit at Sundance, but she previously cut the Sundance narrative feature RESULTS (2015).

Why You Should Watch:
As noted in my film capsule above, Barker benefits from interviews with Green Berets, who are candid about the missteps taken in America’s war on terror. At the same time, the film acknowledges the amazing accomplishments the Special Forces made in the early months of their covert campaigns, suggesting a very different course that the war could have taken.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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