Award-winning filmmaker Courtney brings documentary to Marquette

MARQUETTE – Many community members came out to the Peter White Public Library to meet the producer and director of “Where Soldiers Come From” Monday night.

Heather Courtney filmed the documentary “Where Soldiers Come From” from 2007 to 2010. The film follows a group of friends who grew up together in Houghton from the time they joined the Army National Guard together to being deployed to Afghanistan to returning home after nine months away.

“About six years ago I was looking for something to film that was based in my hometown of Houghton,” Courtney said. “I was reading The Mining Gazette when I saw a story about National Guard training. So I went to the training and that’s where I met Dominic (Fredianelli).”

She said Dominic then introduced her to his friends and told her about how they decided to all join together. That’s when she decided to make a coming-of-age film about this group of boys, she said.

“It started out as just a coming-of-age film,” Courtney said. “We had no idea that they would be deployed to Afghanistan until it happened. That’s when the film became the full scope of their experience.”

Courtney was brought to speak at the library as part of its Meet the Film Makers series and she came with a surprise for the audience. Two of the soldiers, Fredianelli and Cole Smith, came to answer questions, too.

PWPL program coordinator Margaret Boyle said the feedback she received from the audience was very positive.

“A couple of them told me they liked having the opportunity to hear from the men and to find out how they are doing now,” Boyle said. “Having Heather and the soldiers there really helps bring the story to a completion for the audience, I think.”

“Where Soldiers Come From” won the 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story-Long Form and 2012 Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243.