NIF Teams Up with Livingbattlefield.org

The National Infantry Foundation is excited to announce our partnership with Livingbattlefield, the production team behind the groundbreaking World War II film series, The American Road to Victory. (read the official press release here)

The series has already been seen on over 1,200 broadcasts through PBS affiliates nationwide, as well as numerous screenings in public libraries across the country. OnVeterans Day 2011, we presented the third film in the series,The Americans in the Bulge, on our IMAX screen and hosted a Q&A session with a panel of WWII veterans and the film director Richard Lanni.

The American Road to Victory trilogy chronicles the decisive actions that made victory in Europe possible – D-Day, Operation Market Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge – through a combination of striking visuals and detailed historical research. The films are presented by colorful historian Ellwood von Seibold, one of Europe’s leading battlefield guides and an honorary officer in the U.S. Army. To bring history alive, each film features rare archive footage and powerful interviews with combat veterans, seamlessly integrated with computer-generated imagery and historical reenactment.

“We knew, after screening one of the films in our theater on Veterans Day, that we wanted to be a part of this,” says National Infantry Foundation president Ben Williams. “The films represent a great example of everything we stand for – real history for families. ”

As home of the Army’s most rigorous training and indoctrination programs since the early 20thcentury ­– including the Infantry, Armor, Ranger, and Officer Candidate Schools – Fort Benning has been responsible for the training of millions of American heroes, including many of the WWII veterans featured in the American Road to Victory series.

Currently, the films are available for private screenings as part of a National Infantry Museum tour package. Often, the museum will host special public screenings.


War of Wars: The Battle of Somme

To counter the sensational Hollywood depiction of WWI combat, Jonathan Kitzen has produced a new documentary film, War of Wars, using original 3D photographs from the costliest battle in world history: the Battle of the Somme, which claimed the lives of over a million Soldiers. To tell the story, modern-day veterans provide voiceover narration describing their own time in combat to highlight the universal experience that all Soldiers share. “To see the real experience you need to go back to the source – over 10,000 original 3D stereoscopic images of the war taken by photographers and soldiers in the trenches. That experience is far different from the Hollywood version.”

Most modern filmgoers think of “3D” as something invented by contemporary action movie directors like James Cameron or – for slightly older audiences – as a gimmick developed in the 1950s that required the wearing of silly blue-and-red cardboard glasses. In actuality, the concept of three-dimensional photography is as old as photography itself. “There are even 1200 images from the American Civil War that were taken in 3D,” says Kitzen. “By the time World War I came around, 3D was at its peak with perhaps as many as 100,000 images having been taken on the battlefield – of which perhaps 20,000 remain in various collections today.”

Restoring these images has proven to be quite a challenge as the removal of scratches and tears can subtly alter the 3D effect, making 3D restoration far more complex than the typical 2D process. “We thought we had a system in place to correct images, but when we projected them in 3D we realized we were going to have to invent some new technology and work flow in order to fix issues created by the image clean up,” explained War of Wars editor Christian Glawe.

One of the early issues that arose in making the film was the fact that all the WWI veterans have passed on. To overcome this, the filmmakers tried a groundbreaking experimental technique: using living veterans to tell the stories of those who no longer can speak. Interviews have been conducted in Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, and the USA of combat veterans who speak of their own personal experiences in the battlefield. “We really weren’t sure it was going to work, but when we took out the location and time references and a veteran talks about being shot at in Afghanistan, the experience is the same as getting shot at 100 years ago. It really works well,” Kitzen explains.

The National Infantry Foundation continues to provide historical and military insight to the War of Wars project, which is expected to release in Spring 2012. For additional information, visit www.kallistimedia.com and follow Kallisti Media on Facebook. For Veterans who are interested in telling their story, email veteran@kallistimedia.com; if you are in the Columbus/Fort Benning area, you can contact Jordan Beck at (706) 685-2607 or at jbeck@nationalinfantryfoundation.org.

Baker Boys: Inside the Surge

The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center hosted the theatrical world premiere of Baker Boys: Inside the Surge.  This documentary offers an intimate, inside look at Baker Company 1-15, an elite group of Army soldiers on an extended tour in Iraq as they ‘surge’ into a notoriously dangerous Al Qaeda stronghold.