The Recruiter

Director: Edet Belzberg
Screenwriters: Edet Belzberg

Institute History


Five years into the war in Iraq, with no mandatory draft to fill its depleting ranks, the United States Army is more dependent than ever on persuasive recruiters to lure young would-be soldiers to the front lines. Enter Sergeant First Class Clay Usie—one of the most successful Army recruiters in America today. Filmmaker Edet Belzberg travels to Usie’s hometown of Houma, Louisiana, to track his day-to-day life over a nine-month period. What emerges is a double-edged portrait of a man entirely dedicated to his mission. Usie succeeds because he believes in what he is doing, he genuinely cares about the young people in his charge, and he is a hell of a salesman.

Belzberg focuses on four of Usie’s new recruits. To these high-schoolers, Sergeant Usie is a true role model. He becomes their personal trainer, motivator, shrink, and surrogate father. After graduation, the recruits head off to basic training, where they transition to soldiers, awaiting deployment to Iraq. A new squad of innocents face their mortality.

Sundance veteran Belzberg (Children Underground) brings the unflinching immediacy of her vérité style to the phenomenon of military recruitment sweeping the nation. An American Soldier brilliantly defies partisanship, allowing audiences to draw their own conclusions. Uncle Sam wants you; An American Soldier shows us how much.

(As we went to press, the title of this film was changed to The Recruiter.)

— David Courier

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]