In case you missed the Oscars, one of the nominees for this year’s best documentary short category was from our very own Hollywood East! Newton native Sara Nesson received the nomination for her Poster Girl, which Nesson describes as an “emotionally raw documentary” following Robynn Murray, an Iraq veteran, over the course of two years as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and redemption, using art and poetry to redefine her life.
Nesson, who graduated from the Rivers School in Weston, Mass. and from the University of Vermont, grew up watching films being made. Her father, Robert Nesson of Somerville, is an independent producer/director whose films focus on the environment, human rights, and educational projects. He taught his daughter not only about the craft of filmmaking but how it can be used to raise awareness and bring social change.
To create Poster Girl, Sara spent more than a year filming Robynn Murray, a former cheerleader who enlisted in the Army at 19 and served as a combat soldier in Iraq. The 38-minute documentary reveals the young woman’s struggles as she attempts to rebuild her life upon returning from combat, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She begins to redefine herself in her budding antiwar activism and involvement with the Combat Paper Project, a community of vets who make works of art from scraps of their uniforms. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Nesson said about her film: “I wanted to tell an intimate story and show the struggle of these vets. Robynn was the only one that trusted me. Her voice was so powerful; I knew she could be a voice for the thousands that were struggling alone.’’
Poster Girl was the first film for Nesson, 36, who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. But she is already working on her next project. Iraq Paper Scissors is now in post-production, and the short film has caught the eye of Hollywood producers: Tony Bill (The Sting) and his wife, Helen Bartlett (North Country), contacted Nesson about developing a movie based on Murray and the two other female veterans featured on the cover of Army magazine whose experiences upon returning from war contradict the image the military typically strives to reveal.
Congratulations on your Oscar nomination, Sara! Check out a trailer for Poster Girl below: