Project Category: America at War

Twenty months into the Iraq War, Fallujah was an insurgent sanctuary. The overwhelming presence of Al-Qaeda and foreign fighters had the city on the brink of destruction. The film captures the reality of war from the perspective of the Marines who fought the battle of Fallujah. The story is told by those who were there and family members left behind. Among those who share their experiences is a Navy doctor who ran a clinic in the middle of the fight; a Navy Cross recipient struggling with the horrors of PTSD; the Commanding General for the campaign, and the wife of a second lieutenant who didn’t come home.
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President Lyndon Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to make his case to Congress for escalating the conflict with North Vietnam. The film examines newly released evidence used to justify attacking North Vietnam on August 4th 1964. NSA intercepts, White House recordings and first hand witnesses conclude Johnson lied to the country and fabricated the case for war.  Members of the USS Maddox crew, pilots from the US Constellation, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, foreign affairs advisor William Bundy, NSA and CIA analysts all review the newly released evidence and conclude the North Vietnamese attack never happened.
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At Fort Hunt a clandestine organization linked US Army intelligence to prisoners inside 32 German prisoner of war camps. Hidden messages smuggled inside humanitarian packages, cameras to create false ID’s and cribbage boards with hidden shortwave radios that picked up the BBC were all sent into the camps. The broadcaster relayed top secret messages in its 1am bulletin. This is the unknown story behind the Great Escape.
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This series, commissioned by the BBC’s former Director General Lord Tony Hall, traces Sir Charles Wheeler’s reporting from America that began at the height of the Vietnam war and extended well into the Reagan presidency. The five-part, Grierson nominated series examines Nixon’s treason that resulted in a stolen election in 1968, Johnson’s failed efforts to create a “Great Society”, the Vietnam War, America’s defeat in its war on drugs, and Reagan’s reliance on the advice of a San Francisco astrologer. 
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October Fury is a familiar story told from a new perspective. Rarely have documentaries on the Cuban missile crisis involved trips to Murmansk, St Petersburg, and Moscow. This is the story of four Soviet submarines carrying nuclear tipped torpedoes sailing towards Cuba. Under orders to resist any attempt to board their vessels, one boat is forced to the surface by the USS Blandy. When the destroyer’s guns turn towards the submarine, the Soviet captain gives out the order to flood the torpedo tube and prepare to fire. Knowing standard orders in October 1962, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara believes the United States are thirty-seconds from a full scale nuclear war.
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The CIA commissioned this documentary detailing twenty-one years of captivity endured by two CIA officers shot down in 1952 on a classified mission over Manchuria. At the time the CIA was attempting to destabilize the newly installed communist government of Mao Tse Tung.  The two men, John Downey and Richard Fecteau endured years in solitary confinement and for years their families were told they were dead. Upon their return they granted only one interview and it was intended for training purposes.  The secrets they shared would never leave the CIA   The film was originally intended to be shown to CIA recruits at Camp Perry, Virginia.  Eventually the CIA Director, George Tenant  declassified the film. Former senior CIA officers were interviewed including the Head of Clandestine service and the Director of Personnel. Chinese archives provided context and re-enactments of the ordeal brought the men’s account to life.
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In October 1964 LBJ promised to keep American boys out of the Vietnamese civil war. “It’s not our fight” he assured the nation. Six months later he escalated American involvement in the conflict, which would be one of the most consequential and disastrous decisions of his presidency. What led to the transformation? The film traces the six months inside the White House leading up to the announcement of military escalation. It’s clear he was a reluctant warrior felt trapped by the rising tide of history. The film traces the six months inside the White House leading up to announcement of military escalation. It’s clear he was a reluctant warrior felt trapped by the rising tide of history.
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In the aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US Strategic Bombing Survey arrived in Japan in late July 1945 to assess the impact of the two explosions. They brought with them a Hollywood quality film crew. What they witnessed was so disturbing that all the footage was classified “Top Secret” and locked away in the National Archives. Finally released in the late 1980’s the footage became the focal point of this documentary. Members of the film crew were located and they described sequences they hadn’t reviewed for nearly forty years. We go inside a hospital in Hiroshima where 15,00 patients were under the care of half a dozen doctors. The film crew documented the unique impact of the bomb. Keloid formations that appeared a month after the bombing and reflected the side of the body exposed to the blast.
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The film reveals the last best kept secret of the Vietnam War. Hỏa Lò Prison was used by the Northern Vietnamese to hold and torture American POWs. The prison was sarcastically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton, and held many aviators who had been shot down, including prominent figures such as John McCain and Jim Stockdale. Throughout their captivity prisoners inside the Hanoi Hilton were in contact with the CIA through ever more sophisticated methods of communication. It started with coded messages in letters, and developed into encrypted text hidden smuggled into the camp inside dried fruit. The ability to establish communications with the prisoners led to a secret rescue mission that remained classified for forty years.
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