• Richard Rowley
  • United States
  • 2007
  • 22 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Short Documentary
Director Richard Rowley is a member of the Big Noise Tactical Media Group, a New York-based radical group that makes a contemporary form of guerrilla documentaries and reports. In Deserter, he follows Ryan Johnson and his wife Jen during their flight from the Central Valley of California to Toronto, Canada. Johnson deserted the American army after hearing that he was going to be deployed to Iraq, despite assurances that this would not happen. Like many of his contemporaries, Johnson only joined the army because he could not find a job, and he sees the war in Iraq as both illegal and immoral. Desertion means imprisonment, so he decides to flee, realising that there will be no way back. Johnson seeks advice from various helpful organisations that guide him and Jen to Canada. The employees include both Vietnam veterans and young soldiers who have already served in Iraq. Deserter plainly shows how the war in Iraq poses a dilemma for young and inexperienced people. The road movie contains short intermezzos in which several young men attest to the atrocities they have been through. This lends perspective to the decision of the protagonist, who is received in Canada not as a coward, but as a conscientious hero.


  • 22 min
  • color
  • video
  • Spoken languages: English
Richard Rowley
Richard Rowley for Big Noise Films
Richard Rowley, Jacqueline Soohen
David Rowley
David Rowley

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

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IDFA history

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