Soldier film feeds German Afghanistan debate

Tue Feb 12, 2008 11:17am EST
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By Kerstin Gehmlich

BERLIN (Reuters) - When director Brigitte Bertele shot her film about a traumatized German soldier returning from Afghanistan, she did not think its release would coincide with a heated debate about the deployment of further troops abroad.

Bertele's "Nacht vor Augen" (Night before Eyes) is set to engage viewers just as Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is under pressure from its NATO partners to send more troops to dangerous parts of Afghanistan.

"It seemed like irony of fate," Bertele, 33, said of the timing, adding she hoped the film would open people's eyes about the implications of a deployment that German politicians have often played down as a limited humanitarian relief mission.

The film shows 25-year old David returning to his village in the Black Forest, where his friends jokingly receive him as "Rocky Kabul" and his girlfriend Kirsten proudly presents their newly refurbished apartment to him.

"All paid for with your danger money!" Kirsten exclaims.

But instead of showing interest in the new furniture -- or his girlfriend -- David locks himself in the bathroom.

The blonde, muscular soldier is haunted by nightmares. But he struggles to share memories of his combat experience with friends and family who treat his time in the war zone like an exotic holiday.

"Why are you carrying a weapon?" David's mother exclaims as she glances over his Afghanistan pictures. "It's compulsory," her son says, as his young half-brother Benni watches him admiringly.   Continued...