Ballots and Bullets

“Remember — it’s one year from today — the Presidential election!” Phil Donahue reminded the “Body of War” AFI Fest preemgoers at the ArcLight Tuesday night, Nov. 6.

The SRO house had given standing ovations to the film, to its creators, Donahue and Ellen Spiro and to its star — and the film’s leading subject, Iraq war veteran, Tomas Young and another resounding cheer was given his mom.

And as we departed the giant Cinema #10, we were given a copy of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America — plus — an insert printout of the “nays” — those in both the Senate (23) and the House (133) who had voted against Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, October 2002. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) stars in this group thruout the film.

“Body of War” has been four years in the making — and all agreed it’s too bad it couldn’t have been completed — and shown — at least two years ago. Donahue has had these same anti-Iraq war emotions even preceding the war’s — and the film’s start. And wife Marlo Thomas minced no words when she reminded me MSNBC fired him because he aired his anti-Iraq war views.

Donahue made the film with his own money. It has been applauded at the Toronto and Hamptons film fests. And a feature distribution pact is imminent, I was told, today. It deserves generous viewing by everyone — everywhere. Donahue hopes that it ‘will remind people not to let it happen again.’

Donahue told me he hopes this film will help “put some wind in the sails” of those who have been alone in airing their emotions (angers!) against the war — and its treatment of the injured. I asked Donahue if he would consider going back on TV — where he might continue the battle, but he reminded, “I’ve done 6000 hours!”

Young Tomas Young is an inspiration in the film and — courageously — in person as he appeared at the ArcLight Tuesday night. He is 27 and was stricken in his first week in Iraq three years ago. He urges support from the President who, he reminds, has destroyed 40,000 stem cells which could be used for research to help restore a normal way of life. His bravery is shown-up close in “Body Of War.” Don’t miss it.

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