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Groundbreaking doc ‘The Hornet’s Nest’ helps Afghanistan veterans explain experience

Filmmakers David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud try to bring audiences closer than ever to the true horrors of war with the dramatic documentary “The Hornet’s Nest,” a groundbreaking, immersive film using 100 percent front-line footage shot in Afghanistan by veteran journalist Mike Boettcher and his son Carlos.

Salzberg and Tureaud hope the film will show families of veterans what their sons, daughters, husbands and wives have been through, as well as help veterans explain what they experienced.

“The footage was incredible. We had never seen anything like it. We were amazed at the soldiers’ and marines’ commitment to one another, the brotherhood and the sisterhood,” Tureaud told FOX411. “It makes us proud to be Americans, but this is also for anyone who believes in freedom.”

With its tagline “Real War. Real Heroes,” the film chronicles an elite group of U.S. troops sent on a dangerous mission deep inside the complex terrain of one of Afghanistan’s most hostile valleys. In the film, an operation that was planned as a one-day strike turns into nine days of agonizing combat. The firefights, on-the-ground communication, and tactical planning are laid out in detail, as well as the aftermath and reflections of those involved.

To get the front-line footage, the Boettchers trailed the 101st Airborne 327th Infantry, 2nd Battalion ARMY, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment USMC, and 3 BCT “Rakkasans” Airborne, Army, giving audiences an authentic view of battle from the frontlines.

“There is a disconnection between the military and the civilian community and we hope this film can be the bridge between the two,” Tureaud said. “We can’t have what happened in Vietnam happen again, where the country doesn’t embrace these heroes. They have to be embraced – to have jobs, housing, healthcare and support for what they have done.”

Salzberg and Tureaud have so far shown the film exclusively to veterans and their families across the country, and say they have been surprised by its therapeutic effect.

“(Veterans) have been calling it digital medicine. It helps them cope, and it allows their wives and their children and their families to come and see first-hand what they are experiencing,” Salzberg said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to explain… It starts a dialogue. It allows them to cry about it for the first time, to hug and to really understand. Many have come and told us that the film has saved lives, and that it has kept marriages together.”

Mike Boettcher says that many Americans are distanced from and and fatigued by what our troops have endured over the past 14 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The President, Congress, pundits, candidates and news anchors keep telling us we are a nation at war. No, we’re not,” said Boettcher. “The nation is not at war. The Army is at war. Marines are at war. Sailors and airmen are at war. While they fight and die thousands of miles away, we sit comfortably at home and sacrifice nothing.”

 “The Hornet’s Nest” is not a story centered only on ultimate victory. There is bloodshed, death, and mourning for the fallen. At one point, a young Marine apologizes profusely as he’s bleeding to death, saying he’s sorry for dying and for being a burden amid the intense fire fight.

“We hope there is a spontaneous act of love towards our veterans. You don’t watch this film and pity these men. They don’t want you to pity them,” said Tureaud. “You watch this film and see them as the heroes that they are.”

“The Hornet’s Nest” opens in selected theaters May 9, May 16, and May 23.  Opens nationally on June 6th.

Follow @holliesmckay on Twitter.

 

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