Emma Findlen LeBlanc is a Class of 2018 Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow. She will make a documentary film about Iraq war veterans, in collaboration with co-Fellow Taylor Lee Nagel. LeBlanc is a senior researcher at the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where she is completing her DPhil in social anthropology. Previously, she worked as a journalist in Syria and Iraq for publications including GQ, Slate, Le Monde, the New York Times Globalization and Human Rights blog, and the National, and she has exhibited her photographs in the United States, United Kingdom, and Middle East. Her first short film, There Are No Brothers Here, about a young Syrian protester and a secret police interrogator, is currently screening in film festivals.
LeBlanc and Nagel’s project—A Normal Soldier—follows a group of soldiers deployed to Iraq’s “Triangle of Death” in 2007 and 2008. The film tracks these soldiers ten years later, back at home, as they move through their daily routines, while also narrating the events of their deployment. The film explores the challenges of reconciliation that these soldiers face: the reconciliation of Iraq and America, war and peace, the past and the present, the roles of soldier and civilian, and their two worlds governed by often contradictory values and rules. Through these parallel narratives A Normal Soldier offers a reflection on the Iraq war and America’s relationship with the war, its soldiers, and veterans.