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Army dispossesses “Home”

Irwin Winkler Hollywood is fighting the Iraqi war without support or cooperation from the Army.

“Home of the Brave” completed two weeks filming a battle duplicating Al-Hayy, south of Baghdad. The war scenes were filmed in Ouarzazate, Morocco, with that government’s military cooperation, including troops. It’s the same site where Billy Friedkin filmed his “Rules of Engagement” in 2000. Samuel L. Jackson stars in both films.

“Brave” director Irwin Winkler says he gave the Department of Defense a copy of the script but they wanted script changes in order to give support. Winkler nixed it.

The film depicts the horrors of war — roadside bombing in which Jessica Biel loses her right hand and fellow solider Michael Murphy dies in the arms of Brian Presley. They are all members of a National Guard company shipped to Iraq. When they return home (to Spokane) they are unable to cope with post-battle life.

“They are not political — they only want to be able to lead a normal life,” Winkler emphasized, “but there is no medical support for them. The government spends $9.5 billion a month to wage the war but not enough to wage war on the post-battle scars of the returnees.”

Biel, who enlisted in the National Guard though a single parent of a four-year-old daughter, returns to try to adjust to a life minus a right hand. Jackson plays a doctor who has to deal with the memory of all the amputations he had to perform in Iraqi battles.

“I wanted to show the horrors of war — and its post-war affect,” Winkler says.

The return to civilian life is being filmed in Spokane. He allows that “Home Of The Brave” is not the first Hollywood film about returnees — “Coming Home,” “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “The Deer Hunter” among them.

Also the title has been used before, in Mark Robson’s 1949 film version of Arthur Laurent’s’ play. But Winkler says his title is from our National Anthem — as in “O’er the land of the free — and the home of the brave.”

‘Winkler also adds that Avi Lerner, whose Millennium Films financed his film, served in the Israeli Air Force in 1967 and parachuted behind the Egyptian lines.

The “Home of the Brave” company does not shoot Wednesdays and Thursdays in Spokane — instead filming in public buildings over the weekends. It also gives Winkler the opportunity to wing home to L.A. on Wednesday April 12 to attend his family’s Passover Seder.