Milestone Film and Video co-founders Dennis Doros and Amy Heller can thank the fragility of the Kerry campaign and the ferocity of the extreme right for helping launch their new politically minded company Milliarium Zero and its first release, Winter Soldier. After John Kerry won the Democratic nomination, Film Forum’s Karen Cooper considered showing the devastating 34-year-old documentary. But after worrying that it might do more harm than good for Kerry, Cooper lost interest, allowing Doros and Heller to pick it up. “We’re really glad it didn’t show last year, because it’s not about John Kerry—it’s about the horrors of war,” says Doros.
The New Jersey–based couple had always planned on distributing the film through their widely respected Milestone label. But, says Heller, “because the right is well funded and very litigious, it became clear that the best way to release it was to have a separate corporation that would protect the assets of Milestone just in case the Swift Boat Veterans want to make trouble.” Now under their new banner Milliarium Zero, Heller and Doros say they can take on riskier material. They’re currently looking to acquire Seasoned Veteran, a portrait of Winter Soldier and acquitted Gainesville Eight member Scott Camil.
The duo believe their new venture is just an extension of the type of cinema they’ve been delivering for the last 15 years. Doros likens
Winter Soldier to two Marcel Oph titles, The Sorrow and the Pity
and The Troubles We’ve Seen: “They’re about the truth and what people do in times of great horror.”
For the filmmakers and veterans who took part in Winter Soldier (many of whom will be present for an after-screening discussion on August 12), the movie remains eerily relevant. “It was a very powerful film to do at a very vulnerable age,” says docu-luminary Barbara Kopple. “It was hard to see guys of our age going through the most horrible experience of war. They were throwing people out of helicopters. Today, it’s Abu Ghraib.”