Thursday, September 17, 2009

Murder in Iraq: 'Article 32' opens here

By Joe Maniscalco

“The last thing any of these families expected when they sent them off to war is have them be charged with murder.”

That’s Douglas Stewart, one of the directors of the new documentary film “Article 32,” premiering at the Cobble Hill Cinemas today, talking about the eight young servicemen charged with the killing of an Iraqi man in the village of Hamdania, Iraq in 2006.

“I don’t think that any of these kids were trained to do the things they were doing,” Stewart continues.

The “Pendleton 8,” as they have come to be known, are a group of seven Marines and one Navy corpsmen who, on April 26, 2006, were part of an intelligence gathering unit in Iraq ostensibly charged with tracking down and capturing terrorists.

On the date in question, the unit was on the trail of a man identified as a “terrorist warlord” and wanted for planting deadly roadside bombs. What the American servicemen found instead was another man - conversely described both as an Iraqi “grandfather” and a “gunrunner.”

That man was shot and killed. “Article 32” explores the aftermath of that incident.

“There have been many films on Iraq and none have dealt with the military justice system,” co-director Donald Sikorski says. “Our film gives insight and perspective to what these kids went through over there.”

Although all members of the U.S. military unit were charged in connection with the shooting, only Marine Sergeant Larry Hutchins, 22 at the time, was charged with murder & kidnapping and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

“There were implicit orders and explicit orders, and I think there was an environment created to do whatever you have to do to get results,” Stewart says. The filmmakers, both 33, hope that “Article 32” will raise enough questions about the “Pendleton 8” and what happened in the village of Hamdania that Hutchins will get a new trial.

Part of the ticket proceeds for the premiere will be donated to the families of the Pendleton 8.

“I personally don’t think he [Hutchins] deserves to be in jail,” Sikorski says. “He will not admit what he did was wrong. He thought he was saving lives.”

“Article 32” (the title refers to the Uniform Code of Military Justice) was made in conjunction with NEHST Studios which discovered Stewart and Sikorski through their pitch site called

Both Stewart and Sikorski, along with producer and NEHST Chairman Larry Meistrich and NEHST Chief Executive Officer Ari Friedman, will take part in a Q&A session with audience members after the September 17 screening.

“Article 32 is a clear example of a story that needed to be told, and we are proud to contribute to the public discourse about this important subject,” Meistrich said.

Article 32 premieres at the Cobble Hill Cinemas, 265 Court Street, today. A pre-screening reception will be held at 7 p.m. Tickets for the evening’s events are $25 and are available at All attendees will receive a DVD of the film and other gifts.


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