Description from TIFF 2007 catalog by Thom Powers:

“Support our troops” has long been a rallying cry for war proponents. But that glib phrase will never sound the same after you meet Tomas Young, the eloquent former soldier whose story is told in Body of War.

Raised in Kansas City, Young enlisted in the Army full of patriotism two days after September 11, 2001. He hoped for a deployment to Afghanistan to fight those who attacked his country. Instead, he was sent to Iraq where he was shot and paralyzed.

In Body of War, we follow twenty-six-year-old Young for a year as he undergoes an activist~s education. He speaks with candour, humour and raw emotion, meeting war protester Cindy Sheehan near George W. Bush~s Texas ranch, lobbying politicians in Washington and being interviewed by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes.

This project results from the collaboration of several extraordinary talents. Venerable talk-show host Phil Donahue met Young and felt compelled to tell his story. He joined forces with director and cinematographer Ellen Spiro, whose camera work delivers an incredible intimacy. The emotional heft of the documentary is underscored by two powerful songs, written specifically for the film and performed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

Beyond politics, Body of War reveals plenty about overcoming adversity. Young possesses more courage and resilience than most, yet his challenges are enormous. After his injury, he became engaged to his girlfriend, Brie. We see the strains his condition puts on their first year of marriage. Young~s mother, Cathy, joins him in anti-war activism even while her husband remains a committed supporter of Bush and her other son heads to Iraq for his own tour of duty.

Woven throughout the narrative are excerpts from the United States Senate debate of October 2002, in which the majority voted to hand over Congress~s war-making powers to the White House. The juxtaposition between their rhetoric and Young~s reality is profound.

About directors:
Ellen Spiro is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas in Austin. Her documentaries include DiAna~s Hair Ego (91), (In)Visible Women (92), Greetings from Out Here (93), Roam Sweet Home (96), Are the Kids Alright? (co-director, 04), Troop 1500 (05) and Body of War (co-director, 07).

Phil Donahue was born in Cleveland and studied at the University of Notre Dame. He began as a radio and television announcer and newsman before debuting The Phil Donahue Show in 1967, followed by Donahue in 1974. He has won numerous awards for his pioneering talk shows. Body of War (co-director, 07) is his directorial debut.

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