22 October 2011


I don't really do reviews anymore, but since I'm covering a festival, I figure I probably should. Follow the festival buzz for Flyway using the Twitter hostage #flyway11

A Second Knock at the Door (Grimes)

Friendly fire became big news in the wake of the Pat Tillman tragedy, but it's always been a big deal that the military really wants nothing to do with, and for good reason. No one, be it a soldier or Dick Cheney on a hunting trip, wants to admit they accidentally shot someone, much less killed them. So, the Army has regulations on how friendly fire incidents must be handled.

Only they aren't.

Such is the basis of Chris Grimes' documentary A SECOND KNOCK AT THE DOOR, which follows a couple of families who were told their family members were killed in the normal course of war, only to find out that they were actually killed by friendly fire, be it the Polish allies or even their own commanding officer.

Grimes gets pretty in-depth with his subjects (all taken, I believe, from the Gulf War), charting their quest to find out what really happened over there. It paints a pretty bad picture of the military's willingness to do the right thing, as these type of docs usually do. But where most might be calling for a change to policy, A SECOND KNOCK AT THE DOOR is simply asking that the military follow their own policies. They want, simply, the truth. Closure. They deserve at least that.

As a documentary, it's really quite effective, partly because the story is compelling, but mostly because Grimes does a good job of telling his story. He knows what he wants the message to be, and he gets it out there effectively. You kind of wish there was someone telling the other side of the story, or at least offering a counterpoint, but as the end title card tells us, the Department of Defense wanted nothing to do with the project. And who else is going to defend lying to the families of dead soldiers?[A-]

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.