|A still from AWOL (dir. Deb Shoval)|
A Columbia comrade of mine, Deb Shoval is making a feature out of a beautiful short film called AWOL, a sincere and devastating look at what happens when soldiers return from war, that is not Hollywood in any way, and I mean that in the best way possible. Here's the twist, unlike most films from Stop-Loss (2008) to Coming Home (1978) to The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), to the daily news, when we hear about soldiers returning home from war to their loving families, and coping with the process of painful adjustment, it's usually heterosexual couples. Think about it, footage is all over the place of men hugging their wives and children with an unbearably desperate love, but CNN always seems to shut off the cameras when it's a man coming home to his life-partner, or like what is explored in AWOL, when a woman soldier comes home to another woman who loves her.
Even the New Queer Cinema movement, aside from some specific examples built its identity on 'gay' being a quintessentially man to man event, rather than a woman to woman conceptualization.
The film has a lot of buzz around it, and is definitely going to earn its keep among the great 'makes you think' indie films of this generation.
Shoval draws not only from her own experiences but nuances themes of loss, fear, desire, and existentialism in a completely organic and non-pretentious way.
It is not a film about sex per se, nor is it about war, nor lesbians, though those are all inclusive within the plot. On the whole, it's a film about our humanity and our desperation in maintaining it. It is a slice of pure Americana at its most desolate, and most forgiving. Shoval illustrates that this is a film that we can all identify with. Sometimes the best way to tell a universal story is to tell it minutely, and as personally as possible, and this is what I believe Shoval is able to accomplish. She is one of those rare filmmakers that is completely sincere with every scene she creates.
AWOL makes you think not only of those beautiful times that come with having ones that you love come back to you from unimaginable circumstances, but the hard part, which is everything that happens afterwards.
Does it deserve to be a feature length film? Absolutely. In fact, I'm surprised no one has yet made it so. But you can help and donate to not only make this a reality, but also contribute to a very important aspect of our culture being finally put to celluloid completely devoid of pretentiousness, and wholly vulnerable and inspiring.
Below is where you can donate to this film:
Below, is a link to the New York Times article on the film to get more info on it: