Monday, July 21, 2014

Dan Krauss' THE KILL TEAM asks the question, What kind of soldier is fighting our Mideast war?

Around this point in time, most thinking Americans will have by now asked themselves, What has our country achieved from its 12- and 13-year wars in the Mideast? Followed by the answer, Nothing. And then, of course, much less than nothing, for the negatives just keep piling up. The latest of these, movie-wise, is the new documen-tary THE KILL TEAM, which details how one American family, the father a veteran of Vietnam, his son now serving in Afghanistan, the mother looking on in horror, as the story of a group of American soldiers who murder Afghans for sport first surfaces via the son to his parents, who try to alert the military to no avail. The son's life is threatened by his own platoon members, as well as by man in charge. Eventually, the son -- a whistle blower undergoing the punishment our country reserves for these people -- is prosecuted for murder by the military.

Whatever faith you might have in America as a working democracy will be further shredded by this new documen-tary directed, produced and photographed by Dan Krauss, shown at left. In it we meet that aforementioned family of Adam Winfield, below, the 21-year-old infantryman who blew the whistle -- and paid the price.

We already understand what kind of government lied us into the second of these wars, while dropping the ball thoroughly regarding the first one. The current government continues this ugly farce without ever calling into judgment the earlier administration that ought to have been criminally prosecuted. With this movie, we can now call into question what kind of soldiers are fighting our wars. The answer is not a happy one: bullies, sickos and sheep-like creeps in far too high a number.

If Mr. Krauss' film only gave us the testimony of the Winfield family, this would be enough to grab and move us. Oddly, it is the testimony of some of the other fellows in Adam's platoon (shown below and further below) that rather seal the deal. These fresh-faced kids/killers will soon have your jaw somewhere in the vicinity of your knees.

You won't want to hear and see all this. There will certainly be no rush to theaters to embrace this documentary in the manner that audiences did with, say, Searching for Sugar Man. But the film exists. It is on record, as it were. And this is very important. .

That said, I wish the film were better organized and better made. Even at 79 minutes, with a lot of pregnant pauses as the film moves along, there is not enough content here to fill up the air space. We get repetition when we want more information.

Still, the story staggers, and the idea that there are many more similar situations out there will no doubt occur to viewers. (At right is shown one of our soldiers, grinning, with his Afghan "kill.") How does one take something like this "in" and process it? I don't know. But we need to. And I am grateful that Mr. Krauss, for all the film's shortcoming (honesty is not one of these), has given us the opportunity to try.

I also find myself wondering how Mom and Pop Winfield are managing these days (there they are, above, flanking Adam). Certainly as much as their son, these people are true American heroes. We owe them, and Adam, our gratitude.

The Kill Team, from Oscilloscope Films, opens in New York City this Friday, July 25, at the FSLC's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and in Los Angeles on August 8 at the Landmark NuArt. In the weeks to come it will play another half dozen cities. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates.

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