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POV: Armadillo

Airs Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 10:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Photo of a platoon of Danish soldiers in combat in Afghanistan, from the film "Armadillo."

In 2009, Janus Metz and cameraman Lars Skree accompanied a platoon of Danish soldiers to Armadillo, a combat operations base in southern Afghanistan. For six months, often while under fire, they captured the lives of the young soldiers fighting the Taliban in a hostile and confusing environment, where official rhetoric about helping civilians too often met the unforgiving reality of being a foreign occupier. Winner of the Critics’ Week Grand Prix at Cannes, “Armadillo” is one of the most dramatic and candid accounts of combat to come out of Afghanistan.

Interactive Map: FOB Armadillo and Surrounding Area

Explore Forward Operating Base Armadillo and its surrounding area in Afghanistan's Gereshk Valley — with images and video — as it was in 2009, during the events of the war documentary "Armadillo."

Timeline: Controversies in the War in Afghanistan

Learn more about the controversies relating to the war in Afghanistan, including the incident documented in "Armadillo," the release of classified war reports by WikiLeaks and fraud surrounding President Hamid Karzai's re-election.

Film Update

Learn what has happened to the soldiers from the documentary "Armadillo," and what's next for the film's director, Janus Metz.

"Armadillo" sticks close to the soldiers, as jarringly captured in repeated scrambles for cover by Metz and Skree under audible fire. The film faithfully renders the soldiers’ point of view but, in true vérité fashion, neither approves nor condemns what happens, allowing the ambiguities and contradictions of the battlefield — and the soldiers’ evolving attitudes — to speak for themselves.

What is clear is that the soldiers find a harsher climate and geography than anyone anticipated, and an enemy more determined and skilled than anyone told them to expect.

“With Armadillo, I was curious to explore how the micro level of war — where human interaction takes place — affects one of the greatest conflicts of our time,” says director Janus Metz. “I’ve always been interested in making films about people who go through life-altering experiences. This film involves a rite of passage where the men are ultimately faced with themselves and their own humanity — it is universal and basic. In the context of war and the young men who are fighting, I was interested in finding out how the perception of masculinity — the good, the bad, the civilized and the barbaric — is reflected in action and how these concepts are adapted in this coming-of-age story.”

POV is on Facebook, and you can follow @povdocs on Twitter.

Video

Trailer: POV: Armadillo

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Video

Platoon Commander Rasmus is hit by a roadside bomb

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Above: In this clip from the POV documentary "Armadillo," the Danish platoon commander is hit by an improvised explosive device, or IED. He must return to Denmark in order to receive medical treatment while the soldiers continue on with their daily missions and duties. Note: This clip includes an aerial shot of a bomb dropping on several men.

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Interview: "Armadillo" FIlmmaker Janus Metz

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Above: Janus Metz, the filmmaker behind the Danish war documentary "Armadillo," talks about filming his documentary on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan. He describes the psychological effects of war on the people who experience it firsthand, and addresses the controversial incident which has garnered plenty of attention for the film.