×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lioness

Five servicewomen stare in disbelief at a History Channel special on the fighting in Ramadi; they were in the thick of several clashes depicted on-screen, yet are not visible in the footage -- seemingly, they have been erased.

With:
With: Shannon Morgan, Rebecca Nava, Kate Guttormsen, Anastasia Breslow, Ranie Ruthig.

Five servicewomen stare in disbelief at a History Channel special on the fighting in Ramadi; they were in the thick of several clashes depicted on-screen, yet are not visible in the footage — seemingly, they have been erased. While American women are officially banned from direct ground warfare, the peculiar situation in Iraq necessitates they regularly put themselves in harm’s way, their involvement crucial to many operations. Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers’ thought-provoking docu “Lioness,” gender-unique amid the heavy cinematic fallout from the Iraqi war, has a shot at arthouse release before encampment on cable.

Filmmakers’ viewpoint is evident from the outset: If the U.S. is to continue to deploy female soldiers in combat situations (and they are irreplaceable for searching Iraqi women or for placating families during 4 a.m. armed raids on civilian homes), they should apprise them of that fact, train them accordingly, and acknowledge their contributions.

Yet the pic far surpasses any sociopolitical agenda. Helmers McLagan and Sommers get up close and personal with their five subjects, who differ widely in specialty, rank, ethnicity and background.

Supply clerk Spc. Rebecca Nava, a baby-faced New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, stands in camouflage gear in a room full of “her babies” (i.e. munitions), and rattles off the names and specifications of weapons from grenades to rocket launchers.

Redheaded Maj. Kate Guttormsen, a West Pointer, intimately understands the dangers faced by the unprepared women under her command, and finds it hard to operate in the “gray zone” of undeclared combat.

Signal Corps Capt. Anastasia Breslow, of Chinese/Russian descent, a no-nonsense career soldier like her father, reads aloud thoughts from her diary, full of uneasy ambivalence about Iraqi women terrorized by break-ins and her own part in the firefights.

Ace mechanic Staff Sgt. Ranie Ruthig also harbors mixed feelings about her dual role vis-a-vis Iraqi women, coming home to her baby with unresolved anger and displaced aggression.

But the pic really belongs to burly blond Spc. Shannon Morgan, first met shooting tortoises and hunting squirrels in the verdant Arkansas backwoods. Surprisingly, she appears most shaken by her wartime experiences. Plagued by nightmares, she passes many hours with her uncle, a Vietnam vet who fashions homemade Christmas decorations in his workshop.

While seemingly just hanging out with returning soldiers, the pic implicitly raises many questions — are women inherently more compassionate than men, more able to feel a kinship with possible enemies, or does their lack of training make them vulnerable to thoughts and feelings that combat conditioning is designed to stamp out?

Tech contributions are strong.

Lioness

Production: A Chicken & Egg Pictures production in association with Impact Partners of a Room 11 production. Produced by Meg McLagan, Daria Sommers. Executive producers, Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, Judith Helfand. Co-producer, Stephen T. Maing. Co-executive producers, Diana Barrett , Sarah Johnson Redlich. Directed by Meg McLagan, Daria Sommers.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Kirsten Johnson, Julia Dengel; editor, Stephen T. Maing; music, Brendon Anderegg; sound, Brian Scibinico. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight), April 26, 2008. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Shannon Morgan, Rebecca Nava, Kate Guttormsen, Anastasia Breslow, Ranie Ruthig.

More Film

  • Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special

    Agustina San Martin Talks Cannes Special Mention Winner ‘Monster God’

    CANNES – An exploration of the ramifications of God, “Monster God,” from Argentina’s Agustina San Martín, took a Special Mention – an effective runner’s up prize – on Saturday night at this year’s Cannes Film Festival short film competition. It’s not difficult to see why, especially when jury president Claire Denis own films’ power resists [...]

  • Atlantics

    Netflix Snags Worldwide Rights to Cannes Winners 'Atlantics,' 'I Lost My Body'

    Mati Diop’s feature directorial debut “Atlantics” and Jérémy Clapin’s animated favorite “I Lost My Body” have both been acquired by Netflix following wins at Cannes Film Festival. “Atlantics” was awarded the grand prix while “I Lost My Body” was voted the best film at the independent International Critics Week. The deals are for worldwide rights [...]

  • Stan Lee, left, and Keya Morgan

    Stan Lee's Former Business Manager Arrested on Elder Abuse Charges

    Stan Lee’s former business manager, Keya Morgan, was arrested in Arizona Saturday morning on an outstanding warrant from the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD’s Mike Lopez confirmed that the arrest warrant was for the following charges: one count of false imprisonment – elder adult; three counts of grand theft from elder or dependent adult, [...]

  • Moby attends the LA premiere of

    Moby Apologizes to Natalie Portman Over Book Controversy

    Moby has issued an apology of sorts after writing in his recently published memoir “Then It Fell Apart” that he dated Natalie Portman when she was 20 — a claim the actress refuted. “As some time has passed I’ve realized that many of the criticisms leveled at me regarding my inclusion of Natalie in Then [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content