Home / Titles / Human Terrain - War Becomes Academic
Print Page

Human Terrain - War Becomes Academic

» Request Preview Access

School Bd/College/University DVD: $350


Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Bullfrog Films
Closed Captioned: Yes
Running Time: 84 mins
Country of Origin: United Staes
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2010
Available in French: No

Examines and questions the US military's new counterinsurgency initiative, 'Human Terrain Systems', under which social scientists are embedded with combat troops.

Human Terrain is two stories in one. The first exposes a new Pentagon effort to enlist the best and the brightest in a struggle for hearts and minds. Facing long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military initiates `Human Terrain Systems', a controversial program that seeks to make cultural awareness the centerpiece of the new counterinsurgency strategy. Designed to embed social scientists with combat troops, the program swiftly comes under attack as a misguided and unethical effort to gather intelligence and target enemies. Gaining rare access to wargames in the Mojave Desert and training exercises at Quantico and Fort Leavenworth, Human Terrain takes the viewer into the heart of the war machine and a shadowy collaboration between American academics and the military.
The other story is about a brilliant young scholar who leaves the university to join a Human Terrain team. After working as a humanitarian activist in the Western Sahara, Balkans, East Timor and elsewhere, and winning a Marshall Scholarship to study at Oxford, Michael Bhatia returns to Brown University to take up a visiting fellowship. In the course of conducting research on military cultural awareness, he is recruited by the Human Terrain program and eventually embeds with the 82nd Airborne in eastern Afghanistan. On the way to mediate an intertribal dispute, Bhatia is killed when his humvee hits a roadside bomb.
War becomes academic, academics go to war, and the personal tragically merges with the political, raising new questions about the ethics, effectiveness, and high costs of counterinsurgency.

DVD Features

Includes 84-minute and 57-minute versions, both with scene selection and SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Plus extras.

Photo: © Global Media Project

Audience Award, Festival dei Popoli

Screened at:
  • Hot Docs, Canadian International Documentary Film Festival
  • Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival
  • Dok Leipzig
  • Bergen International Film Festival
  • CHP:DOX Copenhagen International Film Festival
  • Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival
  • Cambridge Film Festival, UK
  • Wisconsin Film Festival

- film's website

Related Titles Clip Producer
Secrecy Bullfrog Films
Soldiers of Conscience Bullfrog Films