Of Men and War - 2014

Of Men and War - 2014

In Of Men and War, anger consumes a dozen combat vets long after their return from the front. Like figures from a Greek tragedy, all have traumatic memories that haunt them to this day. Ghosts and echoes of the war fill their lives. Threats seem to spring out from everywhere. Wives, children, and parents bear the brunt of their fractured spirits. At a first-of-its-kind PTSD therapy center, the film’s protagonists resolve to end the ongoing destruction. Their therapist helps the young men forge meaning from their trauma. Over years of therapy, Of Men and War explores their grueling paths to recovery, as they attempt to make peace with themselves, their past, and their families.

© Alice Films

– edited and associate produced by Isidore Bethel / also edited by Sophie Brunet and Charlotte Boigeol / directed by Laurent Bécue-Renard / associate produced by Thierry Garrel

– 142 minutes, Alice Films, Louise Productions, Why Not Productions, Kino Lorber

– on DVD and streaming on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes (USA)

– Cannes Film Festival Official Selection, Museum of Modern Art’s Documentary Fortnight, AFI Docs, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Visions du Réel, Cinéma du Réel, DOK.fest Münich, Moscow IFF, DocumentaMadrid, Göteborg IFF (Sweden), It’s All True (Brazil), Riviera Maya (Mexico), Jerusalem Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Istanbul FF (Turkey), ZagrebDox (Croatia), DocPoint (Finland), DocPoint Tallinn (Estonia), Guth Gafa IDF (Ireland), Belfast FF, DOXA, Dokufest (Kosovo), Human Rights AFF (Australia), Human Rights Watch FF (NYC), Docudays (Ukraine), TRT (Turkey), Open City DF (UK), Docs against Gravity (Poland), Rendezvous with Madness FF (Canada), Erasmus – Jakarta DFF (Indonesia), Ambulante Colombia, COLCOA (USA), Faito DOC (Italy), Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty screening (Haiti), and a dozen other festivals

– Grand Prize at IDFA, New York Times Critics’ Pick, Best Documentary Nomination at European Film Awards, Special Jury Mention at San Francisco Film Festival, Cinematic Nonfiction Award at Little Rock Film Festival

– broadcast on PBS’ POV, Netflix, France 2’s 25 nuances de doc, TVOntario

The New York Times: “This devastatingly raw documentary shows that for some the fighting may stop, but the suffering continues…Empathetic and rigorous, [Of Men and War] burns low and slow. It’s not an easy watch, but it is an enlightening one.”
Los Angeles Times: Of Men and War, “following the vérité documentary style, refrains from identifying the men with on-screen text, save the times they refer to one another by name on camera, and the effect is shrewd. It serves to present what these veterans go through as less a spotlight on one corner of the war and a few of its sufferers, but something systemic we all should be thinking about.”
New York Magazine’s Vulture: “Of Men and War’s compassion is matched only by its relentlessness.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “A remarkable chronicle of Iraq War veterans suffering from the devastating effects of PTSD…[this] engrossing study of soldiers coping with trauma through intensive group therapy offers a rare look at real men shaken by real experiences, underlining the monumental courage it takes for them to get their lives back on track…[The film] has the depth and emotional weight of true fiction, yet also functions as a pure clinical inquiry into the psychological healing process that many veterans undergo…These are naturally gifted storytellers who honed their skills in combat, and the director, along with editors Isidore Bethel, Sophie Brunet, and Charlotte Boigeol, shapes years of discussions into a workable scenario with several plotlines, each of them showing the slow and steady progress — or regress — of its hero…The result is a rather unforgettable experience.”
Variety: “Laurent Bécue-Renard’s rigorous war-trauma documentary provides vital testimony.”
The Village Voice: “This film is raw in the truest sense, yet refined in its sympathy and scope. When the men confess violent visions and urges, it doesn’t make them ugly; what a relief to see something besides the chiseled, identical young soldiers on recruitment posters. What a relief to see ourselves, how we too might find it impossible to overcome flashbacks and go back to work or kiss our children or hold our partners’ hands. What a relief to see men standing in the far corners of the beige room, unable even to sit at the table, while others weep despite themselves. The honesty is hard to watch, but this film is not about voyeurism; it’s about bearing witness, about the possibility of change.”
Slant: “A work of astounding sensitivity and precision, Of Men and War argues for emotional honesty as a moral and psychic imperative…Simply and profoundly humanistic, Of Men and War is a massive film wrought from tiny gestures.”
– #23 on Collider’s “35 Best Documentaries of the 2010s” list, a New York Times “great documentary to stream”

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