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Lioness tells the story of five female Army support soldiers who were part of the first program in American history to send women into direct ground combat. Without the same training as their male counterparts but with a commitment to serve, these young women fought in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq war and returned home as part of this country’s first generation of female combat veterans. Lioness makes public, for the first time, their hidden history.


Still from Lioness. Meg McLagan looks directly at the camera and does not smile. Portrait in black and white.Meg McLagan is a filmmaker and anthropologist. Her most recent film Lioness (co-directed with Daria Sommers) aired on the PBS series Independent Lens. McLagan’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sundance Documentary Fund, Impact Partners, New York State Council on the Arts, Chicken & Egg Pictures, the Fledgling Fund, and Rockefeller Family & Associates, and Open Society Institute. McLagan has published essays on transnational Tibet activism, human rights, and the documentary form, and is co-editor, with Yates McKee, of Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism (Zone Books, 2012). She teaches at Columbia University.

Still from Lioness. Daria Sommers looks directly at the camera and smiles. Portrait in black and white.Daria Sommers is a NYC-based independent filmmaker whose work includes both documentaries and narrative fiction. Her film Lioness (co-directed with Meg McLagan) was broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens. Her work has garnered support from the NEH, the NEA, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Fledgling Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, NYSCA and Impact Partners. Among her previous films is the documentary Eastern Spirit Western World, which was broadcast nationally on PBS, BBC and CBC and premiered at the Smithsonian Institution. She also produced and directed Vermont’s Rap Lab Media Project about disadvantaged youth caught up in the legal system.


Lioness screened at numerous festivals, including Tribeca Film Festival, Human Rights Watch Film Festival London, and Full Frame Documentary Film Festival where it won the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award.  The film was broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens series in 2008. Lioness was instrumental in launching Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) Women Veterans Healthcare Improvement bill, which President Obama signed into law as part of The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act on May 5 of 2010.  The film’s other accomplishments include the activation of policy discussions between the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, and the House Armed Services Committee about documenting women soldiers’ service outside their military occupations. The film was also adopted as a training tool nationwide within the VA healthcare infrastructure and in North Carolina’s AHEC-supported training and treatment program for rural healthcare providers and veterans.

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