IFF Boston 2008: Lioness and At Death House Door


A documentary that brought tears to my eyes and also warmed my heart. Girl power! It focuses on five Army women serving in Iraq. Coming from all different backgrounds, these women have one commonality: military service and Iraq. The lioness tag. This means that they are the first women in U.S. military history to be sent into direct ground combat. As the documentary unfolds, it shows that these women’s services are absolutely integral to the success of the U.S. military. A plethora of Iraq War documentaries are out there. What makes this any different? Most of those tell men’s stories from men’s viewpoints. Lioness is the story you have yet to hear. It’s raw and honest. The women are remarkable and winning. There’s redneck Shannon, the most affected by her tour of duty. She’s on meds and shooting turtles in the swamps of Arkansas. In a telling moment she remarks, “I really wish I had kinda lost my mind or something . . . I lost a part of me.” Directors Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers nicely introduces each woman and then tells the often uncomfortable, upsetting and maddening story of their military service. This is the untold story of Iraq. Lioness is a vital, phenomenal film that illuminates another aspect of the war and provides a revealing perspective from women’s voices. Ones that are not often heard.

At Death House Door

Huntsville, Tex. The prison capital of the world. This unsettling documentary focuses on the death penalty through the eyes of Death Row and a chaplain who is one of the last people to speak with them. He witnessed 95 executions in his tenure. How did this affect his stance on the death penalty? It’s not that simple. The film delves into the wrongful conviction and 1989 execution of Carlos DeLuna as investigated by two Chicago Tribune reporters. The final hours spent with DeLuna sparked Rev. Pickett’s journey to becoming an anti-death penalty activist. At Death House Door is compelling though some moments drag a bit.

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