Soldier's Girl

Director: Frank Pierson
Screenwriters: Ron Nyswaner

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


On the fourth of July 1999, just after the installment of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Barry Winchell, a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, was brutally murdered by a fellow GI. It is rare and beautiful when a filmmaker can take a disturbing true-life headline and convert it into a cinematic experience rich with pathos and poignancy. Such is the case in Soldier's Girl.

What really happened to Barry Winchell was simple—he fell in love. On an outing with his buddies, he was captivated by the beautiful Calpernia Adams, a transgendered entertainer in a local Nashville nightclub.

Director Frank Pierson incorporates incomparable integrity into this true story. Ron Nyswaner's tender script comes to life in the voices of the oddly matched lovers. The superb Troy Garity is the unsophisticated loner, and fantastic Lee Pace the beautifully sexy singer. Shawn Hatosy, as the off-balance, pharamaceutically dependent roommate, is chillingly believable, representing the darker side of military dysfunction.

There is rarely any meaning in this kind of atrocity. One can only hope for the truth. In Soldier's Girl, the truth is told by clearly focusing on the love shared by these two individuals.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]