Prepare to see the face of war like you’ve never seen it before.
A new film expanding across the nation right now is no mere dramatization, no product of Hollywood actors, no government propaganda piece – but instead the actual footage from both American and Taliban fighters in the midst of one of the most heated and desperate battles of the war in Afghanistan.
Christian Tureaud, co-director and producer of “The Hornet’s Nest,” told WND what makes his film so incredibly unique … and heart-wrenching.
“It’s not a movie to entertain, with actors and special effects and all these canned storylines,” Tureaud said. “We wanted to make an immersive, first-person experience. We want to take the audience by the shirt and have them be there, with the troops, and for an hour and a half have them experience it the way the soldiers experience it, as close as they can.
“The reaction we have gotten back from the soldiers and the Marines has been overwhelmingly positive, thanking us, saying, ‘Finally, somebody is telling the story without a political agenda,’” Tureaud told WND. “We wanted it to be apolitical. We wanted this to be a celebration of America and freedom and what that stands for. ‘Freedom ain’t free.’ You get to see the costs and the risks for freedom and the sacrifices these men and women are making to volunteer to go do this. We show the heroism, the bravery and the brotherhood, I feel in a way no one has ever been able to share it because it’s for real. There are no actors. There’s no script. This is it: real life, real heroes.”
A film decades in the making
Tureaud explained the film actually began over 35 years ago, when Mike Boettcher began covering war zones as a journalist embedded with the troops.
“He has been the pre-eminent conflict journalist of the last 35 years,” Tureaud said. “Everywhere there’s been a war, an uprising, a takeover, he’s been there to cover it for CNN, NBC and now ABC.
“He was so good at what he did he was never stateside,” Tureaud continued, “so his wife divorced him, his son resented him and he really lost his family because of his war correspondence and his care for the soldiers and the Marines and covering their stories.
“But now, fast forward 35 years,” Tureaud told WND, “and Mike’s son, Carlos, comes to his dad and says, ‘I want to know you, I want to know why you chose the work over me. So I am going with you to Afghanistan with or without your permission.’”
The only problem is that NBC, which Mike was working for at the time, refused to let him go. Afghanistan was just too dangerous, the company said. No one would allow a journalist and his rookie son to embed with the troops.
“So he quit!” Tureaud told WND. “He quit and goes, ‘This is more important than my job; this is my son.’ He then got special privileges from the joint chiefs to embed with the U.S. troops right on the front line. He and Carlos went into the most violent warzone and got unprecedented, first-person camera access to the war in Afghanistan.”
What Tureaud got back was over 500 hours of raw footage from the frontline, some of it from the Boettchers’ cameras, some of it captured from Taliban cell phones, all filming the same, nine-day battle in which American soldiers and Marines (and the Boettchers) fought their way out of a valley, surrounded on all sides by enemy combatants.
There’s no Hollywood hunks or stuntmen in the footage, just heroes – with no filters, no script and no assurance of a happy ending.
“We had to figure out how to weave the storyline together,” Tureaud told WND. “We wanted the narrative from the father and son’s perspective – because that had never been done before – but at the end of the day what made this so special and unique and different is that the soldiers’ and Marines’ perspective is equal to Mike and Carlos’ perspectives, and they’re all in agreement: They want to make a difference in our country.”
“The Hornet’s Nest” is also unique in filmmaking, because there’s no sound booth and no special effects.
“All of the sounds, the bullets firing past the camera, the RPGs going off, the suicide bomb, it’s all real,” Tureaud told WND. “The movie shows how dangerous it really is.
“There are a couple of things in “The Hornet’s Nest” that have never been seen before, we believe, on film,” Turead continued. “One of them is the Taliban. Mike and Carlos were with our troops, filming our troops fighting the Taliban, while at the same time the Taliban were filming themselves fighting us! They’re using cell phone video to prove they’re fighting Americans because that’s how they get paid; they get paid on bounty by the Taliban. So when our guys took them out, killed them during the battle, their phones were lying there on the ground. Our guys picked them up and gave the video footage to Mike and Carlos, so they were able to tell the other side of the story.
“The other thing that hasn’t been seen before is the actual roll call, how these American soldiers honor their fallen brothers after a battle,” Tureaud continued. “That’s never been shown on film, and it’s so powerful. And it just shows the closeness and honor and camaraderie that they have.”
Watch a trailer for “The Hornet’s Nest” below:
The movie opened May 9 in select cities but is expanding to a list of military bases and cities around the nation.
"We want this to be a bridge between the civilian community and the military," Tureaud told WND. "I had no one who served in the military in my immediate family. I did not understand the brotherhood, the bravery and the heroism that these men and women have. We want the public to realize what it takes, why we need to honor these men and women as they come home. They're going to need a little hand, they're going to need some opportunities for jobs and they're going to need housing and health care and so forth. You can't go through what they went through without having some challenges trying to reintegrate into American life.
"They are your brothers, they are your neighbors, the people in the store that have fought for your freedoms," Tureaud concluded, "and we want them to be honored the way they should be honored. People don't realize: They're the real heroes."