This Is Where We Take Our Stand

Four days of heartbreaking testimony revealed why many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had concluded that their mission was unjust.

This is where we take our stand 01
Premiere Date
January 1, 2012
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Zeiger david filmmaker bio

David Zeiger

David Zeiger has been making documentaries since the early 1990s. His films include his personal essay, The Band (P.O.V., 1997); a 13-part series about the 1999-2000 school year at Fairfax High in Los Angeles, Senior Year (PBS national broadcast 2002); a film about octogenarian television writers, Funny Old Guys (HBO 2002); and a feature documentary telling the suppressed story of the the GI antiwar movement against the Vietnam War, Sir! No Sir! (2006 theatrical run, 2007 Sundance Channel, BBC, Arte France).

Cram bestor filmmaker bio

Bestor Cram

Bestor Cram has more than 20 years of experience as a director, producer, and cinematographer. He founded Northern Light Productions in 1982 and has built it into one of the premiere documentary production companies, producing works ranging from broadcast documentaries to historical, dramatic, and educational media. His independent film, Unfinished Symphony, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the documentary competition in 2001 and has won top honors at film festivals around the world. A recent independent project, The Special— about the song “The Orange Blossom Special” — premiered at the Nashville Independent Film Festival and was selected to screen at AFI’s SilverDocs Festival. As a cinematographer, Bestor’s credits include the theatrically released feature documentaries After Innocence; Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner; the Emmy-nominated Discovery Channel special Mysteries of the Sea: Freak Waves; the HBO special, Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?; the PBS/BBC series China in the Red; the 1995 Documentary Academy Award-winner Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision; and the American Experience on Eleanor Roosevelt. Bestor holds a BA in economics from Denison University, pursued graduate studies at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Guildford, England, and has taught film at MIT and the Maine Film & Television Workshops. He is a Vietnam veteran.

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The Film

In March of 2008, 250 veterans and active duty soldiers marked the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by gathering in Washington D.C. to testify from their own experience about the nature of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Inspired by the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation held by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, they too sought to express their opposition to those wars with their first-hand accounts, bearing witness with voices not generally heard.This is Where We Take Our Stand is a portrait of three participants. It follows their lives for six weeks leading to the event and afterward; an active duty female soldier, a nine-year National Guard veteran, and a three-tour former Marine. This is their story.

For three months prior to the event, the filmmakers had total, unprecedented access to the people and events of Winter Soldier. They fanned out across the country, following dozens of veterans and soldiers as they fought external obstacles and their own demons to make this the historic event it was.

In one sense it was déjà vu all over again, but in many ways this was quite different from the first Winter Soldier. To the extent that people know about opposition to the Vietnam War among soldiers and veterans, the assumption is often made that it was due to the fact soldier were drafted then. But while the movement then was in fact driven largely by those who had volunteered for duty, in today's "all volunteer army," the stakes are much higher for these veterans who underwent a profound transformation by the time they returned home. Against tremendous odds, they brought the voices of the veterans themselves into the debate.

What made hundreds of veterans take this incendiary and dangerous step, risking their own lives and futures to denounce what they has been part of? A few, maybe; even dozens; but hundreds? Not only that, but their emphasis was not mainly on the trauma that they faced, but that suffered by the "enemy," the civilian population of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even more startling, the soldiers and veterans who came together with such unified purpose were themselves from a wide variety of backgrounds, experience, and — most importantly — political views. Far from a stereotypical "anti-war" crowd, they fought through and overcame a myriad of issues and conflicts to do something they believed was bigger than all of them.

"I just want to say that I am sorry for the hate and destruction I have inflicted on people, and the hate and destruction that others have inflicted on people. At one point it was okay, but reality has shown that it is not — and until people hear what is going on in this war, it will continue to happen and people will continue to die. I am sorry for the things that I did, I am no longer the monster that I once was."
— Jon Turner, U.S. Army, at Winter Soldier/Iraq & Afghanistan