Written by: Jennifer Jeffery
“The Hornet’s Nest,” produced and directed by David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud, is a documentary with many layers. On the surface, the story follows news journalist Mike Boettcher’s journey to reconnect with his son, Carlos.
The two have not been close because of Boettcher’s 32-year career as a war correspondent, and Carlos asks to accompany him as he covers U.S. troops as an embedded reporter into some of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan. The narrative documentary uses real footage taken by Boettcher and his son over a two-year period.
Underneath the Boettchers’ storyline is the footage of what it is like to be on the front lines of combat through the eyes of a journalist. Although no one can truly know what it’s like to be in combat, the direct way in which “The Hornet’s Nest” is filmed can help bring about a better understanding of what soldiers have experienced during the longest war in U.S. history.
The most powerful aspect of the documentary is what the soldiers have to say about themselves, each other, and why they serve. The film also honors the memory of the fallen soldiers that the journalists were embedded with in a way that lets you see them as individuals who were deeply connected with their families and brothers-in-arms. It takes the generalities out of war, making the price that’s paid more visible.
“The Hornet’s Nest” skillfully interweaves the storylines together with statistics about the war in Afghanistan. It does not glorify combat, but rather emphasizes the real consequences for soldiers, something so often left out of rhetoric about going to war. It also illuminates the point that honoring service members does nothing to bring their compatriots back. One soldier in the film received two silver stars from General Petraeus, and when asked how he felt about it, he said that he would give them up to have his friends who had been killed in action there with him.
This is an important film for us to view as Americans. Often people thank veterans for their service without truly knowing why they are thanking them. A step toward understanding veterans better is to listen to what they have to say about their experiences. Listening is a first step to knowing what action to take to support veterans and their families.
There will be more advance screenings of this film in the coming months before its release in spring 2014. These events will be posted on “The Hornet’s Nest” official and Facebook pages. If the film is being shown in your area, I highly encourage taking the time to see it. More support for the film at showings and on Facebook will help ensure wider distribution come spring. Help spread the word; it is our duty as citizens to support one another. We are all in service to each other.
After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard for over seven years, Jennifer Jeffery is now an academic advisor for the Veterans Career Transition Program at the IVMF.