TYPE: Documentary Feature
A documentary film about Micronesian citizens in the US military, and the future of a small island nation.
Island Soldier is the untold story of Micronesian citizens fighting America’s wars. Through the personal odyssey of the Nena family, the film unveils the consequences of military service against the backdrop of a pristine Pacific Island on the brink of economic collapse.
Like many young men in the United States, I grew up with a strong interest in the notion of war. I have early memories of playing with plastic toy soldiers, which I would assemble into bloody campaigns of conquest and revenge. Later, with the turbulence of puberty, there came an added emphasis on masculinity and physical aggression. Despite the numerous factors that might have led me toward military service, it was never a serious consideration. Instead, I decided to join the Peace Corps.
A few months into my Peace Corps stint, I visited a remote village called Walung, with several fellow volunteers. As I trudged through the shifting grains of hot sand, I saw a man seated in the shade of a coconut palm, watching our progress. I approached him, tried out my burgeoning Kosraean - the native language - and quickly learned that he had just returned from serving in the US Army, in Iraq and was headed back the following week. We both stared out at the expansive white sand beach and the lush green slopes of the volcanic highlands surrounding us. I found it hard to reconcile this serene setting to the place this man had just come from.
There were many things that I did not ask him, that I wish I had: Why are you fighting for the US in Iraq, when I, a US citizen, am not? What is it like to leave such a peaceful place for the turmoil of war? What is it like to return? It was these questions, and the somewhat guilty understanding that he was serving in my place, so that I could be in the Peace Corps, that is the impetus behind the documentary Island Soldier.
Nathan Fitch - Director & Producer
Nathan is a filmmaker and visual journalist based in Brooklyn. He currently works in the video department of The New Yorker. His work has been featured in The New York Times, TIME magazine, and The National Film Board of Canada. Nathan holds an MFA in documentary storytelling from Hunter college, where he was the recipient of the Welfare and Scholarship fund, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Nathan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia doing Historic Preservation work, and still has a great fondness for breadfruit.
Bryan Chang - Editor & Producer
Bryan Chang is a documentary film director, cinematographer, and editor whose films have been featured by The New York Times, The Atlantic, and MoMA, screened at Sundance Film Festival, and distributed theatrically. He is director of the feature-length documentary BRASSLANDS, lead editor of the award-winning NARCO CULTURA. He edited on the Emmy-nominated documentary series A YEAR IN SPACE, and his work on two TIME Magazine documentary shorts AMNESIA AND A CAMERA and BREACH OF FAITH won first place awards from Pictures of the Year International and the PDN Photo Annual. He is an owner of Meerkat Media, a cooperatively-run production company specializing in independent documentary for clients such as HBO, MTV Networks, and TIME Magazine.
Fivel Rothberg - Producer
Fivel received his MFA in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College, City University of New York. He was the Associate Producer of Kelly Anderson’s film MY BROOKLYN, which examined the policies, like re-zoning, and institutional mechanisms, such as classism and racism, that drive gentrification. His documentary about being a young father, HOUSE DEVIL, STREET ANGEL has been used in classrooms and workshops to provoke discussion about the intersection of masculinity, fatherhood and abuse. Fivel runs a small production company that serves grassroots social justice nonprofits.
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