Back to All Events

Program 9: 'Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?' Billions for New Weapons. Service Members' Safety? Not So Much.

  • Cinema Village 22 East 12th Street New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)

Not everyone who died for their country, had to die for their country.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? - An intimate portrait of a deadly 2014 Navy helicopter crash that exposes how military, political and business leaders have failed our men and women in uniform. (2018, 1 hr 20 min)

“Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?” tells a story of how failure to take action on known safety problems led to unnecessary deaths. If the lives of these sailors and Marines were lost on a factory floor, there would have been outrage, and likely reform. But a distant public assumes these men died defending the country, not training in a chopper long past its prime – one that has killed 128 service members in non-combat missions.

At the heart of the story are people close to Van Dorn and his helicopter’s tragic history: Nicole Van Dorn is the determined widow who has gathered emails and maintenance records showing her late husband’s deep misgivings about the chopper. She demands accountability and leads a local reporter through the material in order to find the truth about her husband’s death. Dylan Boone, who survived the wreck, wrestles with PTSD. His survivor’s guilt is exacerbated by the fact that there’s no sense of valor when your peers die in a training exercise. Chris Humme, the last mechanic to touch the ill-fated Sea Dragon, is a gun-toting patriot who says he sports more red, white and blue than is probably healthy. But he’s kicked out of his beloved Navy after blowing the whistle on persistent, shoddy maintenance practices.

As the film progresses “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?” lays bare the way the U.S. military, Congress, and the mega corporations that serve them have entwined their interests, even at the expense of human lives and the nation’s defense. They opt for new gear, even if programs run billions over budget or never manage to work, while those working on aging equipment squabble for the scraps of the military’s largesse and desperately attempt to keep up appearances. A mix of cinema vérité, a vivid archive, and rich investigative reporting, “Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn?” reveals how the nation has failed the very people who felt compelled to serve us.

“Riveting” - San Francisco Chronicle

"An outrage-­inducing... blistering exposé." - The Mercury News

“A compelling story of how the dysfunction and greed of the military­industrial complex put US military personnel at risk, often with fatal consequences ... Every concerned citizen and every member of Congress should see this film. Lives depend on it.” - The Nation magazine

Get tickets on Eventbrite here!