MACON – “No Greater Love,” a film co-produced by Mercer University Center for Collaborative Journalism (CCJ) journalist-in-residence Laura Fong, will premiere Saturday at the Boston Film Festival.
“No Greater Love” is a feature-length documentary composed of real footage shot in Afghanistan by U.S. Army chaplain Capt. Justin Roberts and 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.
“We are excited that that Laura Fong's outstanding work is being recognized by one the nation's premier film festivals,” said CCJ director Tim Regan-Porter. “She has already proven herself to be a valuable addition to the Center, bringing a passion for telling the important stories of the community in visually compelling and creative ways.”
Fong is a 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.
“Telling stories about our military is an honor, and it's also a necessity,” said Fong. “It has come to my attention that if the stories of the human costs of war go untold, I become a part of the problem. I have a responsibility as a journalist and as a citizen to do whatever I can to help our military service men and women come 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, 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.