In 1971, activist actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland spearheaded the FTA Show (“FTA” was not short for “Free the Army,” as they consistently joke), an antiwar comedy revue which toured the Pacific. The shows were performed for the sizable, though often ignored, contingent of US soldiers who opposed the War in Vietnam. They were held near military bases without any official sanction from the US Army or Navy.
Filmmaker Francine Parker followed the tour with her crew, and the following year released F.T.A., a documentary capturing the shows and the antiwar movement among the troops in general. Though it was well-received, it was also highly contentious, especially since the opening happened not long after Fonda’s infamous visit to Hanoi. Distributor American International Pictures pulled the movie quickly and destroyed many copies of it — Parker alleged that AIP head Sam Arkoff got a call directly from the White House. After languishing in obscurity for decades, the film has now received a 4K restoration by IndieCollect, and Kino Lorber has re-released it into theaters. Beyond being a terrific time capsule on any number of issues — both the anti-Vietnam-War movement more broadly and the movement among soldiers more specifically, the protest culture of the ’60s and ’70s, the underreported role of women in the military, cross-racial solidarity — it holds up as a terrifically funny movie. Nixon might be long dead, but if you want to sock it to him regardless, be sure to check this out.
F.T.A. is now playing in virtual cinemas.
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