A documentary about women's basic training in Fort Georgia.

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(as Nicholas Broomfield),
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Cast

Credited cast:
Gregory Abing ...
Himself (as Sgt. Abing)
Clara Alves ...
Herself (as Pvt. Alves)
Jackie Hall ...
Herself (as Pvt.Hall)
Joann Johnson ...
Herself (as Pvt. Johnson)
Pvt. Kelsaw ...
Herself
Pvt. Tutin ...
Herself
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A documentary about women's basic training in Fort Georgia.

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27 September 1981 (USA)  »

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Excellent direct cinema documentary
26 December 2004 | by (Niantic, CT) – See all my reviews

I can't believe the low score this has here. Must be the chicken sympathy vote. This is a 'direct cinema' documentary, slice of life, all shot fly-on-the-wall as it happens, without interviews or voice-overs. As such it is quite different from Nick Broomfield's later 'solo' films, which feature sensational subjects, Broomfield's on-camera interactions, and discussions of his difficulties in making the films. 'Soldeir Girls', similar in form to the Maysles 'Salesman' follows a group of female recruits through basic training, and eventually focuses in on the one who can't keep up. But where Paul emerges as a failure in Salesman, Pvt. Johnson may be the winner in resisting the Army's attempts to break her spirit. With militarism seemingly on the American agenda for the foreseeable future, this remains a timely film, and it's a shame it's not in video distribution here in the US. As the other comment notes, this would be a good film for anyone considering enlisting, but I would say its also useful for anyone who a relative, friend, or countryman who might wind up in the military. In short, there are things on view here we should all be aware of. The film is very well made. Joan Churchill is an amazing camera person, and she gets right inside the action with incredible close-up shots. Churchill and Broomfield had amazing access. They seem to have had cues from the DIs and the recruits about what was about to happen, and the camera often anticipates the events, giving the film much of the coherence and drama of fiction. I doubt the Army is going to let any independent filmmakers get this close again, even in non-combat situations like this, the PR machine has the clamps tightened down now. Not that this film is necessarily negative to the Army -- it's actually very sympathetic to the tough as nails drill sergeant -- but its realistic enough to show more warts than the Pentagon wants to show. Highly recommended.


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