This Week’s Snag Film: Into the Thunder Dragon

This week’s free documentary from Snag Films is Into the Thunder Dragon, and it’s is like no other film you’ve ever seen.

Bring a rare, wild sport: extreme unicycling … to a remote Himalayan kingdom: Bhutan … and you have a recipe for unbelievable adventure!  Get ready for a spell-binding road trip and an enchanting journey unicycling on perilous 1,000-year-old caravan trails through the mountains and valleys of Bhutan—along with an intimate look at its unique people and rich culture.

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RESTREPO to Screen at AFI SilverDocs this Weekend

'Restrepo' film directors Sebastian Junger (left) and Tim Hetherington (right) at the Restrepo outpost in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. Junger and Hetherington jointly directed, filmed and produced the movie 'Restrepo' from June 2007 to January 2010. Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, Kunar Province. 2007. (Photograph © Tim Hetherington)

In the DC area this weekend?  Then we hope you’ll check out RESTREPO, a film from Vanity Fair correspondents Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington being shown at AFI’s SilverDocs festival this Friday at 5:00pm and Sunday at 7:00pm.  Junger will be joined by Major Daniel Kearney at Friday’s screening; on Sunday Major Kearney will be joined by Sgt. Misha Pemble-Belkin.  Click here to purchase tickets!

RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 94-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

The directors have this to say about their experience: “The war in Afghanistan has become highly politicized, but soldiers rarely take part in that discussion. Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives: we did not sit down with their families, we did not interview Afghans, we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one’s political beliefs. Beliefs can be a way to avoid looking at reality. This is reality.”

Please join us at SilverDocs on Friday or Sunday and keep an eye on this blog for upcoming news on this powerful documentary!

Special Discount for “The Way We Get By” this 4th of July!

Our good friends from the award-winning documentary THE WAY WE GET BY are extending a special USO discount, just in time for the 4th of July.  Simply visit the online store and enter code USO 25 to receive 25% off your purchase of the film!

In case you’re not yet familiar with TWWGB, here’s a brief synopsis: “Beginning as a seemingly idiosyncratic story about troop greeters – a group of senior citizens who gather daily at a small airport to thank American soldiers departing and returning from Iraq, the film quickly turns into a moving, unsettling and compassionate story about aging, loneliness, war and mortality.

When its three subjects aren’t at the airport, they wrestle with their own problems: failing health, depression, mounting debt. Joan, a grandmother of eight, has a deep connection to the soldiers she meets. The sanguine Jerry keeps his spirits up even as his personal problems mount. And the veteran Bill, who clearly has trouble taking care of himself, finds himself contemplating his own death. Seeking out the telling detail rather than offering sweeping generalizations, the film carefully builds stories of heartbreak and redemption, reminding us how our culture casts our elders, and too often our soldiers, aside. More important, regardless of your politics, “The Way We Get By” celebrates three unsung heroes who share their love with strangers who need and deserve it.”

If you live in the DC area, be sure to meet filmmakers Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly as they discuss the story behind the film and its online companion piece, the Returning Home Project at the AFI Silver Docs Festival.   They’ll be at the Cafritz Auditorium at 3:30 on Tuesday, June 22nd.  Can’t make it to DC?  Then check out iTunes, where the film also continues to enjoy a run as one of the Top 10 documentary rentals!

We love the story of these Maine troop greeters and know that what they do is replicated in airports all over the world wherever there are Troops leaving or coming back.  Let us know what you think of the film, and enjoy a special bonus scene below!


At the end of THE WAY WE GET BY, Joan’s granddaughter Amy deploys to Iraq– in January 2008 with her Maine National Guard unit. Watch this bonus scene shot in January 2009 at the Bangor International Airport.

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This Week’s Snag Film: Paragliding Across America

Paragliding Across America – this weeks’ FREE documentary from Snag Films – tells the story of the first paragliding expedition attempting to cross the United States from coast to coast, California to North Carolina.

Will Gadd, holder of the world paragliding record for distance, leads the first paraglide expedition attempting to cross the United States from coast to coast, California to North Carolina.  An epic six-week thrill ride at altitudes as high as 17,000 ft., never knowing where they would land and what they would find on the ground, and always captive to the winds, storms and thermals.

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This Week’s Snag Film: Okie Noodling

Leave the fishing pole at home! This form of fishing isn't for the faint of heart...

This week’s free documentary from Snag Films is Okie Noodling, a profile of the culture and sport of noodling, the deep-rooted Southern practice of barehanded fishing. This intimate, and often violent, tradition has its roots in Native American hunting practices and has been passed through generations of southerners for hundreds of years. The Sooner State is one of the last to allow this ancient and controversial fishing technique.

Through personal stories of Oklahoma – fisherman, game wardens, noodlers and historians, Okie Noodling, a one-hour documentary, gives a voice to this vanishing feature of American rural life. Noodlers dive into creeks, rivers and lakes swimming under embankments in search of catfish nesting holes. As Burkhard Bigler of the Atlantic Monthly explains, “Wading along the shore or diving to the lake bottom, (the noodler) reaches into likely nooks and crevices, wiggling his fingers and waiting for a nip. When it comes, he hooks his thumbs into the attacker’s mouth or thrusts an arm down its throat and waits for the thrashing to stop. If he’s lucky, the thing on the end of his arm is a catfish.” The result is scraped and bloodied limbs and occasionally broken bones. Each noodler bears the scars of the battle.

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GI Film Fest: Honor in the Valley of Tears

Originally posted by Jeremy Borden for the ON PATROL blog:

The annual GI Film Fest celebrates the “successes and sacrifices of the American military through the medium of film.” One of those films was Honor in the Valley of Tears, which tells the story of the Army’s A-Company during the Vietnam War.

Summary by Writer-Director Eric S. Dow:

The story of A-Company 1/8 4th Infantry Division, US Army during the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1967. In the men’s own words, through the stories they narrate, the film gives us insight into the time these men spent together and the bond they formed that remains unbroken to this day. The 4th Infantry Division is one of the only divisions that trained and retained its troops during the Vietnam War. The men of A-Company trained together for eleven months and served together for one year. Their story begins with basic training at Ft. Lewis Washington in 1965 and continues 40 years later at their last reunion in September 2007. Filming began September 27, 2007 in Houston, Texas during a reunion to honor First Sergeant David H. McNerney, who is the only living member of the 4th Infantry Division to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was celebrated by the men he trained and served with and who’s lives he saved on March 22, 1967. Conceived by executive producer John A. Ponsoll, whose father served with A-Company and had documented his tour of duty with a Kodak slide camera, the film honors the memory of A-Company 1/8 and documents their incredible courage and dedication to one another.

We caught up with the filmmakers and the hero of the film, former First Sergeant David H. McNerney.