The powerful story about a single mother who tries to balance her career as a decorated U.S. Army medic with caring for her five-year-old son will premiere at the Newport Film Festival in California this month.
Part of the festival’s “Women Direct!” series, Fort Bliss was written and directed by Claudia Myers and stars True Detective actress Michelle Monaghan (as Maggie Swann), Ron Livingston (Richard), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Alma) and Pablo Schreiber (Staff Sergeant Donovan).
Voltage, the company behind The Hurt Locker, which won the Oscar for best picture and best director in 2008, is handling international sales.
The first look trailer shows Maggie returning home from serving in Afghanistan, only to discover that her young son, Paul (with Oakes Fegley making his acting debut) barely knows her, and has become more attached to her ex-husband, played by Livingston, and his new girlfriend.
“She’s not my mommy!” proclaims the little boy when she arrives to pick him up, prompting Maggie to lament: “He wants nothing to do with me.”
The harrowing story follows her struggle to reconnect with her son while attempting to reintegrate into civilian life, while a new romance blossoms with a mechanic (Manolo Cardona) before she ultimately decides to return to active duty. “I re-enlisted… because I am good at my job,” says Monaghan, who later faces the angry accusation: “You will fight for your country but you won’t fight for your son.”
The theme of the film was inspired by Myers and producer Adam Silver’s experiences in film school together, where they shot a project on location at Fort Bliss, New Mexico. “We were really drawn to the soldiers’ stories,” Silver told The Hollywood Reporter.
As a mother herself, “Claudia immersed herself in that military culture, speaking to solders, conducting focus groups and came to learn that the stories of soldiers as parents resonated with her as a mom,” he explained.
“The film pulls no punches about what it is like to be a female in the military, telling the universal theme of career vs. family from the mother’s perspective,” fellow producer John Sullivan went on to reveal.
“I come from a military family and war seems to be something that we [as a culture] continue to be involved in. It is very simple just to call them soldiers — but they are husbands, fathers, mothers. The film drives home the cost of war to families.”
The drama has already been shown at test screenings at the real Fort Bliss and was received very well, explained the producers. “The reactions have been extremely positive. The Army wants to see this story told, despite it showing troubling subject matter like PTSD, reintegrating into society and sexual assault — but to their credit they have supported it and helped the film get made in terms of accuracy,” said Sullivan.
After the premiere at the Newport Film Festival on April 29, Fort Bliss will showcase on the final night of the GI Film Festival in Washington D.C. in May, which is geared towards veterans.
“We are really looking forward to getting it in front of military,” said Sullivan.