Filmmaker Q&A: Patricia Foulkrod

Producer/Director, The Ground Truth: After the killing ends

| January / February 2006

In preparation for the article The Docs of War (January/February 2006), I interviewed several filmmakers about their experiences. Here are some excerpts from my email correspondence with Patricia Foulkrod, producer/director of The Ground Truth, one of the most powerful documentaries I've seen this year. -- LU

Leif Utne: What inspired you to make The Ground Truth in the first place?

Patricia Foulkrod: I was inspired to make this film because after we invaded Iraq I found in Jim Hightower's newsletter, Mark Benjamin's articles for UPS, etc. that there were many, many more wounded than we were hearing about - the number was around 18,000-20,000 by December which was only 9 months into the war. So I made a half hour film before the 2004 election called The Ground Truth: The Human Cost of War and it was to show people what the soldiers themselves thought of the war and who and how there were so many injuries.

However, after interviewing a lot of soldiers, I always felt I saw something behind their eyes that was unspoken -- like a shattered and broken heart -- and I knew what I wanted to keep exploring was the effects of killing -- what I call The Consciousness of Killing. Why do we never talk about killing in war? So I shifted my focus and started asking soldiers about killing.

LU: What was the most surprising event or aspect of making the film?

PF: The most surprising aspect to me is twofold -- I noticed that even those who killed in self-defense and who knew in their minds that it was because of the circumstances -- they're in a war -- still they seem to feel haunted and guilty and shameful because of what they had done - even though it might have saved their own life. The military teaches you to be responsible and these guys take it all on themselves regardless of orders or circumstances. I can't say I know this was true in every case, but the responsibility that soldiers feel personally for any life that they may take in war is a HUGE burden that is placed on them - FOREVER -- long after we are now shaking hands with the enemy -- and this torment is there always there regardless of whether or not they signed up for the military. The military and our community at home does very little to help these guys live with these feelings because we don't want to come out of the denial that they kill.

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