MACON – Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) and Religious Life Center on Saturday will host a special screening of the international award-winning documentary “No Greater Love,” co-produced by CCJ journalist-in-residence Laura Fong.
The screening, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Medical School Auditorium, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the film's director, U.S. Army Chaplain Capt. Justin Roberts.
Additionally, on Friday at 3 p.m. in Connell Student Center Conference Room I, Roberts will participate in a Q&A about how civilians can help American military veterans make the transition home.
Both events are free and open to the public. Due to limited seating, tickets are required and may be obtained at bit.ly/nglfilm.
“Telling stories about our nation's service members is truly an honor,” said Fong, who serves as clinical faculty member in the CCJ, working with students to develop journalistic skills through classroom instruction, fieldwork in community journalism, and with other faculty, staff and media partners to better serve the information needs of the community.
“No Greater Love,” which premiered at the Boston Film Festival in September, has earned numerous honors, including Best Documentary and the Mass Impact Award in Boston, Best of Show and Best Documentary at the Lake Charles Film Festival, Best Military Film at the San Diego Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Foyle Film Festival in Ireland.
The documentary is composed of real footage shot in Afghanistan by Roberts in addition to follow-up interviews with soldiers and surviving family members of soldiers killed in combat. The film examines the experiences of combat and post-traumatic stress disorder upon transitioning from the battlefield to home.
Roberts deployed in 2010 with the now legendary “No Slack” Battalion, 101st Airborne Division to Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. The 800-man unit suffered 18 casualties and earned more than 200 Purple Hearts while fighting some of the fiercest battles with the Taliban.
Roberts returned home a passionate advocate for soldiers, like himself, dealing with PTSD. He teamed up with director of photography Ryan Curtis and producers Brent Dones, Priyank Desai and Fong, who is also an advocate for veterans' issues as well as an award-winning photojournalist, to attempt to illuminate to the American public the true cost of war and start a dialogue about what combat is like for soldiers and how difficult it is for them to return to civilian life.
Current statistics show that American veterans and service members are involved in 22 suicides per day. Suicide, not combat, is the No. 1 killer of service members. Veterans make up 25 percent of the country's homeless population, and one in five struggle with PTSD.
The film's title is derived from a memorial to Roberts' former battalion that quotes a Bible verse: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends” (John 15:13).
Through crowdsourcing, over $100,000 was raised to help cover operational costs of producing the film. A portion of its proceeds will go to veterans' charities. “No Greater Love” is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.
For more information on “No Greater Love,” visit nglfilm.com.
About the Center for Collaborative Journalism
The Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) is a unique partnership between Mercer University, The Telegraph and Georgia Public Broadcasting, with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Peyton Anderson Foundation. The Center's groundbreaking collaboration has students, faculty and veteran journalists working together in a joint newsroom. Learning in a “teaching hospital” model, students engage the community using the latest digital tools and leave with a strong portfolio of published work.