Watch the ISLAND SOLDIER Trailer

 

ISLAND SOLDIER follows members of the Nena family from one of the most remote islands in the world to the training grounds of Texas and the battlefields in Afghanistan. The death of Sapuro “Sapp” Nena in Afghanistan makes waves through his tiny home island of Kosrae - where nearly everyone is connected to the U.S. Military directly or through family members. In an attempt to heal from his own deep wounds, Sapuro’s best friend in the Army, Mario Robles, heads to Kosrae with his family to meet Sapp’s parents for the first time and pay his respects on Veteran’s Day. It is an emotional gathering of two families, from opposite sides of the world, brought together by loss, love and honor.

A remote archipelago of hundreds of tiny volcanic islands in the western Pacific, The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is an independent nation of 100,000 citizens, and a protectorate of the United States. In recent years, the country has become a “recruiter’s paradise” for the U.S. military, especially since 9/11. Yet they have lost fives times more soldiers, per capita, than any U.S. state. The film captures a tightly knit island community — a microcosm of economic, social and political change, as the high price for military service in a foreign nation’s wars cuts deep.

Through an intricate weave of the personal journeys undertaken by Pacific Islander soldiers, the film illustrates a larger story of a remote region whose interests are caught in the ever-changing tides of international politics. ISLAND SOLDIER asks challenging questions while offering viewers a unique perspective on a globalized world. Who are these virtually unknown foreign soldiers fighting America’s wars? What does it mean for the United States to use, and practically discard, foreign citizens from their military? What happens to Micronesian veterans, and their families, when they return home and cannot access their benefits (healthcare, treatment for PTSD, loans, etc)? What is the future of these islands that exist at the mercy of foreign superpowers and strategic military interests?

 

The ISLAND SOLDIER Team


NATHAN FITCH Director & Producer

Nathan is a filmmaker and visual journalist based in Brooklyn. He currently works in the video department of The New Yorker. His work has been featured in The New York Times, TIME magazine, and The National Film Board of Canada. Nathan holds an MFA in documentary storytelling from Hunter college, where he was the recipient of the Welfare and Scholarship fund, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Nathan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia doing Historic Preservation work, and still has a great fondness for breadfruit.


BRYAN CHANG Producer & Editor

Bryan Chang is a documentary film director, cinematographer, and editor whose films have been featured by The New York Times, The Atlantic, and MoMA, screened at Sundance Film Festival, and distributed theatrically. He is director of the feature-length documentary BRASSLANDS, lead editor of the award-winning NARCO CULTURA. He edited on the Emmy-nominated documentary series A YEAR IN SPACE, and his work on two TIME Magazine documentary shorts AMNESIA AND A CAMERA and BREACH OF FAITH won first place awards from Pictures of the Year International and the PDN Photo Annual. He is an owner of Meerkat Media, a cooperatively-run production company specializing in independent documentary for clients such as HBO, MTV Networks, and TIME Magazine.


FIVEL ROTHBERG Producer

Fivel received his MFA in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College, City University of New York. He was the Associate Producer of Kelly Anderson’s film MY BROOKLYN, which examined the policies, like re-zoning, and institutional mechanisms, such as classism and racism, that drive gentrification. His documentary about being a young father, HOUSE DEVIL, STREET ANGEL has been used in classrooms and workshops to provoke discussion about the intersection of masculinity, fatherhood and abuse. Fivel runs a small production company that serves grassroots social justice nonprofits.


VIDALINO RAATIOR Consultant & Cultural Advisor

Vidalino Staley Raatior is a devoted dad and husband, member of the Pwaraka and Alengeitaw clans, a former Jesuit, an international educator, consultant, web designer, citizen journalist, and social entrepreneur from the Northwest region in Chuuk State, Micronesia. While he lives in Hilo, Hawaii, he is deeply rooted and involved in his home country of the Federated States of Micronesia specifically in finding ways to help the poor and isolated outer islands of Pattiw, Namonweito, and Pafeng.