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Home Front, Richard Hankin (2006)

This is the story of Jeremy Feldbusch and his family. Feldbusch was badly wounded early in the Iraq war and lost his sight. He’s now a spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project, a veteran’s advocacy group. Hankin does the good hard work of living and breathing with Feldbusch, his family, and his community over a long period of time, and so achieves a depth and intimacy that other documentaries about returning veterans which just put them in front of a camera and ask them questions cannot. There are many scenes here which do a great deal to reduce the usual platitudes and abstractions to the very concrete, daily, unnoticed problems that veterans and their families have to deal with. Feldbusch is not a saint, madman, hero, zombie, proselyte, politico, flag-waver, cynic or any other stereotype. He’s sometimes volatile and sometimes calm, sometimes extraordinarily insightful and other times pretty thick-headed. He’s human, and not a number, and thanks to Hankin for introducing him to us.

I just have to say, as preface to my next entry, that the Feldbusches live in Pennsylvania, and the scenes in the film that blew my mind most were the ones where Feldbusch and his father determinedly figure out a way for Feldbusch to go deer hunting, despite his blindness. You need to see the shot of a blind veteran lugging a dead doe through the snow. It’s the kind of thing fiction just can’t do.

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