90th Parallel and CBC Television present:
Filmmaker Gordon Henderson joins Eight Platoon Charles Company for an intimate portrait of Canadian soldiers at war in AfghanistanWorld Premiere on CBC “THE DOC-ZONE” MARCH 29, 2007 – 8PMArmed with cameras, filmmaker Gordon Henderson spent the month of October 2006 in Afghanistan with Canadian troops. The Crazy Eights is an intimate video journal of his time with The Royal Canadian Regiment Charles Company Eight Platoon.* * *
The Crazy Eights have suffered more than any other Canadian military unit in the war. Over Labour Day 2006 weekend, the platoon was in the thick of Operation Medusa, the biggest battle Canadians have been in since the Korean War. Then the next morning, the platoon was strafed by an American plane. An A10 Warthog literally gunned them down in friendly fire. There were only eight soldiers left standing. Henderson and cameramen Jerry Vienneau were with Eight Platoon while it was rebuilding at Spin Boldak near the Pakistan border and as it was patrolling the front lines of Panjwaii, “I wanted to experience the soldier’s everyday life,” says Gordon Henderson. “The Crazy Eights is not an analysis of the war. Its purpose is to give Canadians a sense of what our soldiers are going through.” So Henderson and Vienneau stayed with The Crazy Eights. “We ate with them, slept in the incredibly dusty trenches with them and hung out with them. When they went on patrol, we went with them.”At Spin Boldak, or Forward Operating Base Costall, veterans of September’s devastation were regrouping, resting and healing. Henderson and Vienneau were with The Crazy Eights as the platoon was being reconstituted and replacements were coming on. It was an extraordinarily intimate time to share with a platoon.Henderson remembers: “The guys were friendly but cautious at first, but when they saw us in Panjwaii, where most Canadians have been killed, they really welcomed us.”Much of film takes place in Panjwaii -- in convoys, on foot patrol and with the soldiers as they checked out suspicious intruders. There was one particularly tense night in Panjwaii when Taliban had been spotted nearby. “For the first time in my life,” Henderson says, “I was ordered to sleep with my boots on.”Henderson’s main memories: playing chess with Corporal Bellamy as he talked emotionally about Medusa ("No one can prepare you for that."), listening to Private Keegan urge the Maple Leafs on ("I could die and never see the Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Keep that on your conscience, boys.") And dust, dust, dust.The Crazy Eights stayed out in the Panjwaii dust for fifty-seven days straight. They returned to Canada in February.Producer, director and writer of “The Crazy Eights” is Gordon Henderson. Jerry Vienneau was behind the camera in Afghanistan and Geoff Matheson was editor of “The Crazy Eights”.