Of Men and War

PBS Premiere: May 30, 2016Check the broadcast schedule »

Filmmaker Statement

Of Men and War came out of a reflection on what was left unspoken by my grandfathers. They had died by the time I was born--but they had also staunchly refused to talk about their experiences from the First World War while they were alive. In my first film, War-Wearied (De guerre lasses), I broached this subject with three widows who survived the Bosnian war. In a sense, that film was a portrait of my grandmothers. All the while, the war experiences of my grandfathers continued to haunt me. Of Men and War is my way of honoring them.

It took 11 years between my first idea for the film--when the Iraq war began in 2003--and its completion in May 2014. I spent 14 months in the therapy center and returned many times in the four years that followed.

Filming therapy was a way of acknowledging people who had decided to move forward with their lives. Some days I'd leave the therapy room overwhelmed. How was I to make sense out of this mess? How could I communicate it to an audience? I became convinced that from all this mud, I could eke out rays of light. In doing so, I could find meaning for the protagonists in Of Men and War as well
as for its viewers.

The residents came to perceive the filming itself as an additional glimmer of hope. Consciously or not, the veterans began to sense that voicing their brutal experiences might uncover deeper meaning: Their stories might contribute to a greater public consciousness of the hardships veterans confront long after the war's end.

-- Laurent Bécue Renard, Director