Betsy Nagler: FLAT DADDY Documentary at MFF

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 2:15pm

I’d like to invite readers of Baristanet to come see FLAT DADDY, a documentary that I’ve co-directed and produced, which will be screening at the Montclair Film Festival on May 5. Flat daddies — life-sized cardboard cut-outs of husbands, wives, parents and children serving overseas — are the connecting thread we use to look at the effect of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on four families from around the country.

Why should you see this film? Well, I was born and raised in New Jersey. I lived in Newark until I was seven, and then moved to South Orange (and graduated from Columbia High School, Class of 1986). Until I made this film, I didn’t really know anyone serving in the military – or at least, I didn’t know that I knew them. I’ve learned since making FLAT DADDY that while 1 percent of Americans serve in the U.S. Military, 70 percent of their families live in civilian communities. Some of those families were probably my neighbors; maybe one of the kids on my block ended up going to Iraq. But it certainly wasn’t something I ever thought about. I read the news and thought I knew about the war, but I’d never felt its impact on a personal level. I think that my perspective represents that of many residents of North Jersey. My co-director and I are hoping that we can connect people across the military-civilian divide, and raise awareness about how the war has affected families — and how it’s still affecting them, because many of the struggles these families face really only begin when the soldier comes home.

But “should” is a word that’s normally reserved for mowing the lawn or visiting the dentist. If you come to see our film, you’ll get to know four families that are probably a lot like yours, only they’re facing challenges, in their everyday lives, that you might never have considered. You’ll likely laugh, maybe you’ll cry. And maybe you’ll be inspired to get to know more about those neighbors you didn’t know you had.

To find out more info about our screening, and watch our trailer here . We hope to see you on May 5!

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And we can get this project completed in time for Montclair's sesquicentennial when we can stick a fork into historic preservation as a public policy.

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