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July 2008
An Interview with Director Kimberly Pierce

An Interview with Director Kimberly Pierce
By Wilson Morales

July 8, 2008

As we currently are in an election year that will bring in a new President, one of the issues being debated is about the war in Iraq and when can our troops come home. For some, when their tour is over, they are home for good, but for others, there is no coming home. It’s either death or a ‘full time commitment’ to the cause with no end in sight.

Currently on DVD is a film that shows the consequences of when the chance to come home is halted because of the government. ‘Stop Loss’ examines the lives of those who have been stopped from returning to a civilian life. Directed by Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Lie), the film stars Ryan Phillippe, Abbie Cornish, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ciarán Hinds, Timothy Olyphant, Victor Rasuk, and Rob Brown.

In speaking with blackfilm.com, Ms. Pierce talks about her reasons for helming this film and why it’s so personal to her.

What can we expect from watching the DVD that we didn’t get to see or analyze in theaters?

Kimberly Pierce: Well, hopefully if you are watching the film for the first time, it will be a great chance to see if your local theater didn’t have it at the time. I think re-watching will probably bring you more deeply into the emotion of the character. A lot of people have said that. I’m really thrilled to have everyone see the making of the film. It really gives you some insight of the movie and a lot of issues and the characters.

What were you looking to accomplish when you set out to do this film?

KP: I really was looking to tell a very personal story. I was in New York for 9/11 and saw the towers fall. Went to the vigils for the victims; America declared war. I knew then and there that this was going to be one of the most important things that I was going to live through. It had a profound effect on our culture so I wanted to write a story about the soldiers and their families and what they were all going through. My own family got involved in the war because my brother signed up to fight. So, it was a deeply personal story. I wanted to bring the point of view from the soldiers to life. I went around the country and I interviewed soldiers and their families and really that’s where the movie came out of it. It was this amazing journey that I went on discovering what was going on with our soldiers in our country. In the course of doing that, I found out a couple of things. One, the emblematic story of this generation was the soldier who signed up after 9/11 wanting to get revenge and wanting to protect his or her family, goes over there, in particular Iraq and did not find what they were looking for. They ended protecting themselves, soldiers from the left and the right. I found out camaraderie is the most important thing that soldiers experience in war. That they want to protect one another and bring them home. That was difficult in Iraq with urban combat, particularly trying to tell who was in a suit and who wasn’t, trying to protect men and woman and bring them home safe. Those things really compelled me. We were writing that story when we found out about stop loss. It’s a backdoor draft. They are recycling soldiers who should be getting out. They are sending back soldiers who have completed their contract and making them go back on third and fourth tours. This story came to me from patriotic soldiers who wanted to protect their comrades. They were the ones who were pissed off about stop loss and that opened the door for me. The movie isn’t about stop loss. The movie is about camaraderie, and their love for one another. Stop loss is what happens to one of the characters and he fights against it.

What’s the percentage of stop loss that occurs with the military?

KP: I don’t know the percentage. I can tell you when we started the movie 50,000 soldiers had been stop loss, and now it’s up to 100,000.

Although the film received positive reviews, it didn’t do so well at the box office, so I wondering if American is ready to see films dealing with or about the war.

KP: I think people are ready to see this. I went around to different cities and showed this film and I had packed audiences who stayed for Q & As and they really loved it. I think when people saw it, they loved it. It may have been a challenging time in general because of the films that came out before this movie. The DVD offers an opportunity for those who didn’t see it to see it. Since the movie came out, the awareness of stop loss has increased. People now know about the term and are helping to fight against it. The movie made people ready and it’s on people’s conscious now. All of the candidates, Obama and McCain came out against stop loss, and Obama even said to go see the movie.

Can you talk about the cast you assembled for this film?

KP: They were all great and special. Channing (Tatum) had came in and didn’t have a lot of experience or wasn’t know to the public from a studio standpoint, but he came in and was so determined and he was so much the right type, and we worked for a few hours on his audition. We made a tape and sent it to the studio. I sent it to Scott Rudin, who loved it and we both called the studio, and praised Channing’s abilities, and to the studio’s credit, they hired him. It’s amazing to me as a director whenI can hire the right actor. Then I got to hire Joseph Gordon Levitt, who I think is one of the best actors of his generation. He’s just profound. Abby (Cornish) was my first choice. She wasn’t available and we ended up delayed a little bit. She then became available and what an extraordinary opportunity to use her. It’s her first American role. I needed a girl who could be one of the guys, like have drinks with them, and could race trucks, and load guns; and who also is a beautiful woman, and she’s an extraordinary talent. I was hugely impressed with Ryan (Phillippe), who is so amazing to work, and Victor (Rasuk); my good friend Victor, who I adore. I love to cast accurately and I love to work with ensembles. I usually have a lead protagonist but I have a group of people around them and each one has to be hand picked so that they work for own character as well as for the ensemble.

For more info on the film, click here - http://www.stoplossmovie.com/






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