Former Army Cavalry Scout leader, Henry Hughes, created and directed an Oscar-nominated short film titled “Day One.” The film and main character were largely based on the female interpreter from his deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. She made such an impression on him that he wanted to tell her story through this film. His film was one of five nominated in the short film category for an Oscar last night but unfortunately they did not win.
I haven’t seen a war film yet about our more recent wars that’s touched me,” Hughes said. So he set out to capture something he hopes resonates with today’s war fighters, but more importantly conveys their experience in a way civilians can understand.
“Really, I wanted to make this film for people who have not had this experience of what it’s like to go to war,” Hughes said. “I wasn’t sure if I could ever figure out about what I thought about my time there — it was a good thing, it was a bad thing — it’s not so simple that I can reduce like that. But I do know what it felt like. And I thought maybe I could show people what that feeling is like.”
“It really sucks when someone dies. And it’s a profound experience. But it’s hard to get one for one on screen, so I thought with the feminine thrown into this largely masculine world, that it would maybe would churn things up enough that we could have these sort of sublime moments of things that are horribly beautiful,” Hughes said.
The unique aspect that sets this film apart from other war films is the perspective of the main character. The audience views the war through the eyes of a female translator instead of a soldier. This choice for the main character allows both military and civilians to relate to the movie. Hughes draws the audience in with the juxtaposition of different cultures and gender in Afghanistan. On her first day on the job, she has to deal with being thrown into a military way of life, only to be later confronted with the gender-segregated culture of Afghanistan. There is also personal struggle that most interpreters may feel when they chose to help overseas, a tug-of-war between American and native cultural norms.
I highly recommend the film, “Day One.” Even though the film is short (only 25 minutes), it covers some of the complexities associated with war. Most war movies show only the ugliness of war, but this one shows the delicate human side of war as well. I am looking forward to watching more films from this new director.
Images courtesy of Military Times