In his recent, Emmy-winning Netflix special Talking for Clapping, Patton Oswalt makes the case that drone strikes have been the most unsettling blemish on the Obama administration. The new documentary National Bird goes even further, following people whose involvement in those strikes have left them with scars more psychological than physical.
Director Sonia Kennebeck sets her sights on three particular veterans: Heather, an imagery analyst; Daniel, a private contractor, and Lisa, a former technical sergeant. They spend most of the doc struggling to absolve themselves. They eventually become whistleblowers, putting their lives on the line in order to expose drone-war casualties of not only suspected terrorists but everyday citizens caught as collateral damage. One even goes to Afghanistan to aid in humanitarian work, looking to reclaim her humanity by meeting these people face-to-face.
With filmmaking icons Wim Wenders and Errol Morris co-signing as executive producers, National Bird shows that war will always be hell, even for those who aren’t on the battleground. Kennebeck directs with a cold, distant eye, almost giving her subjects the same treatment they gave all those poor souls they targeted.
Viewers already against drone strikes will already agree with what National Bird serves up. But this movie may be an eye-opener for those who thought Obama was sleeping on the job when it came to terrorism. Hell, he may go down as the most terrorist-killing president of all time.
Directed by Sonia Kennebeck
Opens November 11, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 11, 2016