War Weary

Jamesgand_paul_14730857_400 Just a few months after retiring Tony Soprano, James Gandolfini marked the return of his HBO roots in Washington on Wednesday with the premiere of a new documentary on wounded war vets.

Gandolfini is executive producer on “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq,” which follows the aftermath of 10 veterans from the day they almost died to the present. The invitation only screening avoided the politics of the war and instead focused on the life-altering sacrifices some soldiers and Marines are enduring.

The evening was full of alternately surreal and moving moments, starting with one blind and battle-scarred vet laughing and joking during the pre-screening reception as if this were a typical premiere.The film depicts graphic onscreen images of mutilated flesh, intercut with dispassionate recountings of the various Sheilacas_paul_14730868_400 attacks. After it was shown, eight of the 10 vets ascended the stage — some with great difficulty — to a standing ovation.

Members of Congress and the Washington press corps turned out, but the guest who turned the most heads, and prompted the most curiosity, was Paul Wolfowitz, one of the Iraq war’s chief architects. No doubt wanting the keep the focus on the vets, Gandolfini did not speak and kept as low a profile as he could. Wolfowitz did the same.

—By William Triplett in Washington.

Wireimage photos: Top, Cpl. Michael Jernigan and James Gandolfini; bottom, Sheila Casey, Army Chief of Staff George Casey and HBO’s Richard Plepler.

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