Documentary witnesses daily battles of military families whose loved ones fight in Afghanistan

From Reel Girls Media:

HOMEFRONT airs on Global Television, March 10, 2007, 7 p.m. ET/PT

In January 2006, 1500 Canadian troops are deployed to help restore democracy to war-torn Afghanistan. While their stories are well-documented in the media, Homefront, a one-hour documentary produced and directed by Edmonton filmmaker Ava Karvonen, picks up where the media coverage stops — tracking the emotional journey of five families who face omnipresent fear and loneliness from the moment they say good-bye to their soldiers.

Homefront airs on Global Television on Saturday, March 10, 2007, 7 p.m. ET/PT as part of the Global Currents news documentary series.

Shot in both Edmonton and Afghanistan, Karvonen chronicles the challenges of soldiers in the desert and those of their families at home waiting to hear news of them. Relentless media reports on injuries and losses, offensives and retreats, keep them on constant edge, even while they struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy and calm. Overwhelming loneliness is evident as they face daily family dramas and personal losses without the support of their partners.

As an unprecedented spate of soldiers die in the battlefield, these spouses and families grapple with a gnawing sense of panic just weeks before their loved ones are scheduled to return home.

“I hear on the radio on my drive to work that a Canadian soldier’s been killed – your whole world stops at that moment,” says Nicole Whitton, documentary subject and wife of Corporal Gordon Whitton. “It’s just been an emotional rollercoaster watching the news and hearing the radio. … When you actually do see the pictures of the soldier that has died and then you see the families and the children that have been left behind, it’s heart-wrenching.”

“Making this documentary really opened my eyes,” says Karvonen. “I had no idea how stressful this tour was going to be for the families. I have a lot of respect for the support they provide not only to their soldiers, but to this country as a whole. They are also heroes but they are not recognized for their contributions to a tour.”

Homefront tells the stories of:

  • Newly-weds Cpl Troy McEachern and Amanda Griffin-McEachern with a baby on the way and a romantic vision of a wartime marriage
  • Capt. Derek Chenette, the almost too well-informed soldier-husband who waits for his wife Capt Marilynn Chenette while he parents their two- year-old son
  • Nicole Whitton who endures a tragedy on her own when her husband Cpl Gordon Whitton is outside the wire on a mission
  • Zoë Cooper, the veteran wife of DCO Maj Tod Strickland who struggles under the pressures of her husband’s third and most deadly tour
  • Carolina Hamilton, who must manage the most aggravating realities of a military spouse – single-handedly planning a family move to a new posting across the country which must occur before her husband, Capt. Jon Hamilton, returns.

Homefront was produced by Franco Dottor, Ava Karvonen and Jody Polowick for Reel Girls Media in association with Global Television and with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund License Fee Program and Equity Investment Program, the Alberta Film Development Program of the Alberta Government, Rogers Documentary Fund, Knowledge Network, Canadian Learning Television and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit Program.