Archive for May 2011

Director Robert Child Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted by Robert Child

Wereth Eleven Wins Founders Choice Award at GI Film Fest

The Wereth Eleven
was honored with the Founders’ Choice Award at the Fifth Annual GI Film Festival at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. – May 17, 2011 – The epic docudrama, “The Wereth Eleven,” was featured and honored as “Founders’ Choice” at the prestigious Fifth Annual GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. The film is based on the heroic story of the escape made by 11 American soldiers at the start of the Battle of the Bulge during World War II.

“The Wereth Eleven” was one of 31 films to premiere at the GI Film Festival held at the United States Navy Memorial between May 9 and May 15 to honor the heroic stories of the American Armed Forces and the worldwide quest for freedom and liberty.

Narrated by “The Closer’s” Corey Reynolds, “The Wereth Eleven” tells the true story of 11 soldiers of the segregated African-American 333rd Field Artillery Battalion who dramatically escaped German soldiers after their unit was overrun. Their 10-mile trek from their battery position to Wereth, Belgium led them to refuge with a Belgian family until a Nazi sympathizer revealed their presence to an SS Reconn Patrol. The soldiers surrendered, but were taken to a field, where they were tortured, maimed, and shot on Dec. 17, 1944. The killings were investigated, but never prosecuted.

Rob Child with GI Film Fest Founders, Laura Law and Brandon Millett
“I’m truly speechless,” expressed Robert Child, director and writer of ‘The Wereth Eleven,’ in reaction to the film winning the award. “I’m so appreciative of our fantastic team, including Joseph Small’s vision and Frederic Lumiere’s expertise. Our guiding principal was to make a film worthy of the eleven men within the Wereth story - and I accept this award on behalf of those men.”
The powerful and poignant film is an epic docudrama with stunning Hollywood-grade visual effects, interviews with witnesses, and archival footage.

“The Wereth Eleven” was produced by The Ardennes Group with executive producers Small, Child, and Lumiere. The film was directed and written by Child, and edited by Lumiere: producer, director and editor of the groundbreaking Emmy Award-winning series “WWII in HD,” narrated by Gary Sinise.

About The Ardennes Group
Launched in 2009 by CEO Joseph Small, The Ardennes Group develops and produces historical military documentaries and films. The company’s productions include the World War II docudrama, “The Wereth Eleven,” which premiered nationwide on National Geographic Channel (credited as “Caught by the SS: The Wereth Eleven”) and the soon-to-be released war documentary, “USS Franklin: Honor Restored,” based on Joseph A. Springer’s book, “INFERNO: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in World War II.”
Posted by Robert Child

Ken Burns: The Civil War 2011 Commemorative Edition and Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray DVD Combo -

Just discovered that my film on Gettysburg, Gettysburg The Boys in Blue and Gray is being packaged with Ken Burns, The Civil War as a commemorative DVD offer for Memorial Day.

Ken Burns: The Civil War 2011 Commemorative Edition and Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray DVD Combo -
Posted by Robert Child

A Special Website for our Veterans - The Frontlines

For this post, I wanted to introduce folks to a dedicated member of our armed services, Capt. Nathan Tierney, who has served three tours in the Middle East. Capt. Tierney has founded the website, The Frontlines, which is dedicated to supporting our veterans and allowing their voices to be heard.

I am a wholehearted supporter of Nathan’s efforts and I have asked him to share his personal story, which is both heart wrenching and inspiring. I hope you take some time to explore and support his extremely worthwhile effort on behalf of our veterans. As a man and as a soldier, he represents the best of what our country has to offer and his own words follow.

Robert Child, Director – The Wereth Eleven

The Frontlines – by Capt. Nathan Tierney

As a boy, my father told me to be a boxer in life.  For every hit, give one back in the form of a selfless act.  This guidance has helped me through hardships, by shifting focus from personal ailments to what I can do for others. Following my third tour to the Middle East, my father’s advice was tested two weeks into yet another overseas tour, when I received notification that my 3 year-old son had passed away. Losing a child upsets the natural order of life, because a parent is simply never supposed to outlive a child. As a father and man, my only child’s death was a crushing defeat in which I was ill prepared; no military training, or words of encouragement could stop me from the spiraling course of self-destructing shame, guilt, helplessness, and depression that I experienced. Stifling thoughts of suicide, abandoning the military, and my family for a nomadic and destitute life took more than intestinal fortitude, and simple desire to continue living; it took direction as found by adhering to my father’s second bit of advice, “Every day be the man and father that your son Joshua can be proud of.”  His advice taped to my door, gave me the missing tool I desperately needed to resurrect myself, chart my course for a continued career in the military, and most importantly begin to once again cherish life.  But what if I had not been given that tool? Would I have become part of the 20% of suicides in the United States being a veteran? Or wallowed in my self-pity and found myself as one of the 105,000 homeless veterans sleeping on our streets each night? The cup of suffering is different for all people, but what you do it that suffering is entirely dependent upon the tools you have in your own proverbial toolbox.

Confronted years later by abnormal biopsy results, I was able to transition to serving in an altered capacity without the self-doubt or loss of direction that had previously derailed me. However, this past July I saw an image that changed my life forever. Coming out the front door of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital was a young soldier, early twenties in his PT uniform, struggling to put his backpack on... he was struggling because he was a dual amputee. As the young man struggled out the door, alone, and passersby’s starring vs. helping, I wondered what is his story? Why are people not helping him? He had obviously given so much to our country and yet there he walked alone, probably facing a discharge and yet with his whole life ahead of him. Is abandoning our men and women of the armed forces what our nation has come to? Where are his tools?

Inspired by this wounded warrior, I created and launched The Frontlines website this past Veteran’s Day. The mission of The Frontlines is to empower members of the armed forces, veterans, family and friends through a network that provides resources, education and the ability to creatively share their stories. Having seen first-hand the number of our young soldiers at Walter Reed that are less fortunate, I am reminded of our civic duty to take care of those who have selflessly sacrificed so much for our country. Whether you served in peacetime or war, as an infantryman, sailor, pilot or marine, each and every man and woman that has worn the uniform has a story. And unless those stories are told, they will be forgotten. I believe that good storytelling heals the soul. It is a visceral experience between the storyteller and the audience that transcends all cultures, beliefs and nations. Through our stories, shared experience, and insight, we can be boxers, and give a hit back in the form of tools to provide a seamless transition from active duty to veteran status.

No medal or mission has filled me with a greater sense of accomplishment than to advocate for veterans. Though the launch of Frontlines is a significant accomplishment, it is only the beginning step to transform our nation through engagement and support of active citizenship.  I believe we can bridge the divide between military and civilian cultures, through promoting candid conversation regarding the cost of war to our nation and its protectors.  Our brave service members require neither sympathy nor accolades, but rather a supportive environment where voices can be heard in an open, inclusive dialogue.  It is only through preservation and education that our nation will remain great, and can we help our grandchildren understand serving for a cause greater than oneself.

Very respectfully,
Nathan Tierney
Posted by Robert Child

Robert Child Named Honorary Crewmember of USS Franklin (CV-13)

This has been quite a humbling yet extremely proud week in my professional career. I was just notified that I have been made an honorary member of the incredibly heroic USS Franklin (CV-13) crew the most decorated sailors in US Naval history.

Emotions run deep, still today, in the surviving men of the USS Franklin. The carrier, known as “the ship, which wouldn’t die”, survived a direct hit by a Japanese armor-piecing bomb just 40 miles off the coast of Japan in March 1945 and was eventually able to return under her own power to New York for repairs.

The enemy bomb took more then 700 lives in an instant and the ensuing explosions from the Franklin’s own arms stores turned her into a deadly fireworks display that blasted hundreds more men over the side 90 feet into the cold Pacific.

In directing and co writing the film, USS Franklin: Honor Restored, at the same time I was directing, The Wereth Eleven, I have gotten to know, albeit at a distance, some of the finest men ever to wear the uniform of the U.S. Navy.

The Franklin’s story, the men’s story, had never been told only hinted at in anguished personal accounts captured by author, Joseph Springer, in his book INFERNO. Joe and I co-wrote, USS Franklin: Honor Restored, and Joseph Small of the Ardennes Group produced the film to set the record straight.

And the letter I just received the President of the USS Franklin Museum Association, H. Prentice Baptiste, cited this. He wrote, “We wish to extend to you membership as a full fledged crew member of the USS Franklin for your work in setting the record straight of the heroic effort in saving one of the great ships of the U.S. Navy in World War II.”

That, “setting the record straight”, meant revealing the story of the men who hit the water or were transported off the ship unconscious or too wounded to stand becoming known as the “wet soldiers” and the subject of Captain Lesley Gerhes rage. He insisted that no order was given by him to abandon the ship and that any man who had not remained – had deserted his post – no matter what his condition. And Capt. Gerhes instituted a sweeping court marshal.

It went as high up as the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, but all crewmen were eventually cleared of all charges. The shame, however, of being labeled a “deserter” was a burden these proud men continued to carry their entire lives. Several crewmen have stated plainly to my co-writer, Joe Springer, “Now that the story has been told I can die in peace”.

Being named a crew member of the USS Franklin is the most humbling honor I have ever received in my professional career as it signifies the work I have created has had a profound personal impact in people’s lives.  Not every film has the opportunity to do this but I am grateful and again honored and truly humbled that the effort on behalf of the Franklin’s crew, of which I am now a part, will shortly be seen by the world. USS Franklin: Honor Restored, narrated by Dale Dye, releases this summer.
Posted by Robert Child

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