A documentary film about Micronesian citizens serving in the U.S. military, and the future of a small island nation.
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?
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