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Camera On America's Iraq War Wounded

Director Terry Sanders and cameraman Erik Daarstad on location in Balad, Iraq
American Film Foundation
This story written by The ShowBuzz.com's Ken Lombardi

As Hollywood and independent studios continue to release films on the Iraq war, evidenced by several of this year's Best Documentary Oscar nominees, director Terry Sanders puts the spotlight on GIs who have been wounded in Iraq in his latest release, "Fighting For Life."

With two Academy Awards already under his belt, veteran filmmaker Sanders brings to the screen the stories of U.S. military doctors and wounded soldiers on the road to recovery.

This documentary presents a real life contemporary MASH setting, filmed on the front lines in Iraq, where soldiers are first treated for grave injuries.

"I went to a combat hospital in the middle of Iraq," Sanders said in an interview with The Showbuzz. "I kept hearing explosions…it was very disconcerting."

Over the course of three years filming "Fighting For Life," Sanders examined the Uniformed Services University, the "West Point" of American military medicine, which Congress has continually attempted to close.

He also spent time with Crystal Davis, a 21-year-old U.S. soldier, as she learned to adjust to life back home as an amputee. Davis lost the lower part of her right leg in a roadside bomb blast.

"I think the most important thing for people to go away with after they see this film is to think about the wounded, and to remember the wounded. The dead get publicized more," Sanders said. "People don't like to think about it. I worry about these young men and women. I worry that, when they're 35, if anyone will be there to make sure they get what they need."

Tackling such hotly debated subject matter, Sanders remained particularly intent in presenting a nonpartisan narrative.

"It had to be apolitical because I simply don't believe in creating a film that preaches to the choir. For me the best films are the ones that reach everybody, whether it be those on the right, left, or center. It's the kiss of death for this film if it's perceived as a government film, or an antiwar film," he said.

The director hopes that the message of "Fighting For Life" is not lost within the cloudy state of the current political landscape. During present day times of chaos, conflict, and continuous debate, Sanders presents the stories of American medical officers and soldiers, stories often ignored by the mainstream media.

"Fighting For Life" opened in New York last week.