Island Soldier Film

Island Solider Film - Understanding the Global in the Local through the Visual Humanities



“The Federated States of Micronesia is a remote U.S. territory with only 100,000 inhabitants, nearly all of whom are connected to the military directly or indirectly through family. Still immersed in a subsistence economy, the military offers opportunity – yet it can come at a very high cost.” – Island Soldier Website

Join Humanities Guahan in this special preview screening and facilitated conversation of Island Soldier, a documentary film directed by Nathan Fitch that intimately explores the relationship of Micronesian islanders, their families, their service to the U.S. military, and resulting out-migration from Micronesia to Guam, Hawai’i, and the U.S. continent.

These servicemen and women, who are not U.S. citizens, have fought and died in disproportionately high numbers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In fact, Micronesia is considered a “recruiters paradise,” yet few Americans know of Micronesia and its long colonial/neocolonial relationship with the U.S.

Under the “Compacts of Free Association” with the three island nation states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, signed in 1986, the U.S. has complete strategic control over the two million square miles of ocean and islands that compromise Micronesia. In return, Micronesian citizens are allowed to travel, study, work, and live freely in the U.S., which has led to a large out-migration.

Following the screening, attendees can participate in a panel-led conversation about the documentary film, using the visual humanities, to discuss the important role the film plays in addressing local and global issues around citizenship, patriotism, war, power, migration, colonialism, and national and cultural identities through the lens of the Micronesian experience.

View the film’s Kickstarter Video here.

This event is part of the 38th Annual National Humanities Conference, organized by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Humanities Alliance, and hosted in 2016 by Utah Humanities. The National Humanities Conference brings together the humanities community through distinguished speaker plenaries, workshops, working groups, networking sessions, and interactions with the host-city in order to demonstrate the important role, and the relevance, of the humanities in everyday American life. The humanities offer an opportunity to confront contemporary challenges by gathering people together from all walks of life, backgrounds, and experiences to promote understanding and learning.

Kimberlee Kihleng, Humanities Guahan
Kimberlee Kihleng earned both her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. Kihleng is the executive director of Guam Humanities Council, an independent nonprofit organization, working to promote community humanities programming for the people of Guam. Prior to her current position at the Council, Kihleng served as the executive director of Mission Houses Museum and was a visiting scholar in Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam and coordinator of the university’s Women and Gender Studies Program. She also served as the first Historic Preservation Officer for the FSM national government. In addition, Kihleng, a Fulbright Scholar, has carried-out long-term ethnographic research in Pohnpei Island, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) as well as a short-term ethnographic study in the Republic of Palau.

Nathan Fitch, “The New Yorker” magazine, Independent Filmmaker
Nathan is the director and producer of Island Soldier. According to the film’s website, Fitch is a filmmaker and visual journalist based in Brooklyn and currently works in the video department of The New Yorker. His work has been featured in The New York Times, TIME magazine, and The National Film Board of Canada. Nathan holds an MFA in documentary storytelling from Hunter College, where he was the recipient of the Welfare and Scholarship fund, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Nathan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia doing Historic Preservation work, and still has a great fondness for breadfruit.

Private 1st Class Arthur Nena, U.S. Army
Private 1st Class Arthur Nena is one of the two U.S. Army soldiers the film follows throughout his personal journey from Micronesia to the U.S. military.

Moderator: Nedine Songeni, Humanities Guahan