Arkansas PBS > Engage > Pressroom > AETN, UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 host Community Cinema; free advance screening of 'Lioness'

AETN, UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 host Community Cinema; free advance screening of 'Lioness'

Posted 05 Dec 2011

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 invite the public to a free screening of “Lioness” as part of Community Cinema Monday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. at Roosevelt Thompson Library in Little Rock.

“Lioness” tells the untold story of a group of female Army support soldiers who became the first women in American history to be sent into direct ground combat. Against official policy and without the training given to their male counterparts, but with a firm commitment to serve as needed, these dedicated young women ended up fighting in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq war.

Despite Department of Defense policy banning women from direct ground combat, military commanders have been using women as an essential part of their ground operations in Iraq since 2003. The role of Lioness was a solution born out of necessity. Battalion commanders noticed how tensions exploded when male soldiers interacted with Iraqi women during house raids and decided the presence of the right female soldiers would help reduce violence. They began to regularly “attach” pairs of women to all-male combat units.

Directed and produced by Meg McLagan and Daria Sommers, “Lioness” tells the story through the narratives of five key soldiers. Their personal stories, variety in backgrounds and post-Iraq challenges as wives, mothers and daughters collectively tell the story through the complex issues that female participation in combat provokes. “Lioness” is the first film to bridge the gap between the perception and the reality of the essential role women are playing in Iraq, capturing an historical turning point for American society.

Team Lioness includes:
SPC Shannon Morgan, mechanic. Morgan’s journey from innocent Arkansas “country girl” who never expected to be sent into ground combat, to soldier who experienced the darkest side of war, lends the film dramatic intensity and poignancy as she struggles to come to terms with her inner conflict between faith and duty.
SPC Rebecca Nava, supply clerk. A feisty New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage from Queens, she has played every role in the military family’s drama – solider in combat, half of a dual military couple, mother of a baby daughter, wife of a soldier serving in Iraq and female combat vet whose younger sister recently deployed, as well.
Major Kate Guttormsen, company commander. A West Point graduate and the highest ranking female in the battalion, she offers a clearly articulated understanding of the “grey zone” in which these women operated and the distinction between what they were trained for and what they were called upon to do.
Capt. Anastasia Breslow, signal. Half Chinese, half Russian and thoroughly all-American, she followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the military. Her diary readings document the hidden story of the Lioness program and the personal experiences of what it feels like to be on the cutting edge of change in the military.
Staff Sgt. Ranie Ruthig, mechanic. A tough, Midwestern woman, ace mechanic, respected NCO and mother, she was often requested by the Marines for the toughest missions. Her observations of encounters with Iraqi women and children underscore the complicated role Lioness play in an urban combat environment.

The screening will be held at Roosevelt Thompson Library, 38 Rahling Circle, Little Rock. A community discussion will be held following the screening. Additional information is available by calling AETN at 800-662-2386 or visiting

Community Cinema, a free monthly screening series engaging communities through films produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), features monthly screenings followed by panel discussions with leading organizations, local communities and special guest speakers. The program is designed to help people learn about and get involved in the social issues raised in the documentaries.

The mission of UALR Public Radio is to deepen insight into the human experience, empower decision-making and enrich the lives of those we serve through quality news and cultural programs. UALR Public Radio operates two radio stations in Little Rock—KUAR FM 89.1, which broadcasts news, jazz and cultural programs including national programming from NPR, and KLRE 90.5, which broadcasts classical music.