Activist Documentary Goes for the Heart and Mind
Chris Barsanti, Film Journal | Aug 25, 2011
Libert and Hardmon keep their highly Oscar-worthy film short and focused...the investigative punch of a window-rattling "Frontline" episode and the smoldering intensity of a high-stakes issues drama.
“If I die tomorrow, my family gets nothing,” says Denita McCall, one of the former Marines profiled in Semper Fi, Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon’s inspiring documentary about the aftereffects of polluted water at the Corps’ largest base, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. But she also points out where she received her stubbornness from—the very Marine Corps that she is now attempting to get help from: “They trained me to be this way.”
VARIETY Reviews Semper Fi: Always Faithful
Ronnie Scheib, Variety | May 11, 2011
In Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon's shocking expose "Semper Fi," career Marine Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger unearths buried secrets about the corps he so faithfully served, learning that its negligence caused his 9-year-old daughter's death from leukemia and that the military hushed up decades-long toxic contamination at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune that possibly affected thousands of soldiers and their families. Opposed by the government every step of the way, Ensminger digs up evidence and battles his way to Congressional hearings with stubborn, Marine-honed, never-say-die determination. Strong, impassioned docu has a shot at theatrical play before smallscreen airings.
One man's quest makes for a powerful documentary.
Matt Singer, IFC.com | April 29, 2011
The phrase "The American Dream" calls to mind certain images. When I hear those words, I visualize small but comfortable suburban houses in bucolic surroundings. Yards, fences, kids playing in the street. Basically, I imagine what Camp Lejeune looked like in the middle of the last century. Lejeune is the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast. In archival footage from "Semper Fi: Always Faithful," Lejeune looks the way we want America to look. But that simple beauty hid a horrifying secret: Lejeune's water was tainted with industrial chemicals. For thirty years. And the military knew about it. Instead of trying to correct it, they covered it up. "Semper Fi: Always Faithful" is a documentary about the one man who almost single-handedly exposed one of the largest incidents of water contamination in our nation's history.