On the 20th Anniversary of September 11, new documentary Bulletproof Wings depicts rock band EDISUN’s concert tour for soldiers on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ethan Isaac of Ridgefield, CT, was walking on Horatio Street in lower Manhattan on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center was toppled in a terrorist attack. Fighting his way through the soot and ash to escape the terror, he made his way to the Catskill Mountains. “I was scared of what this meant for the future of the country and the world,” said Isaac.
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Ethan channeled his memories of that day into a song called “Into the Sunlight,” a song that would find its way to the ears of Armed Forces Entertainment. So began the journey that would take Ethan and his rock band Edisun to more than 20 countries, performing for United States military men and women.
His experience traveling to the heart of war zones to boost the morale of US troops stationed on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq is documented in the new documentary film, Bulletproof Wings. The documentary is being released exclusively on TUBI TV September 11, 2021, telling the story of Ethan Issac and Edisun.
Their experience participating in a military experiment to bring live music to some of the most dangerous venues on earth would change their lives forever. For the members of Edisun, this would be their first real tour as a band. For one, it would be his last.
Directed by Lori Ambrosini of Lo Ambro Films, and produced and edited by Amanda Ozment of Factory Underground Studio, the film consists of source footage collected by the band over the course of two tours in 2005 and 2006. As such, the film has a gritty, “behind the scenes” feel, offering an insightful look at military life in a war zone, as seen through the eyes of young musicians and the troops they meet while on tour. It also shows a remote and desolate part of the world that few Americans outside of the military have ever seen.
In certain respects, Bulletproof Wings is a travel film, as you join the band flying into the war zone in a C-130 airplane, experiencing what is referred to as a “combat landing,” shuttling between bases in Black Hawk helicopters (doors open, machine guns at the ready), harrowing ground convoys through desert sandstorms, all the while being coached by soldiers on the practicalities of living in a combat zone, such as when to wear their Kevlar helmets and body armor, and what to do during a rocket attack.
“Reality hit when we were flying from Kuwait to the northernmost part of Iraq. We were moving from base to base in a helicopter, doors open on a Black Hawk,” said Ethan. “Flying in a helicopter, putting on body armor was not something we were used to doing,” said guitarist Jonathan Svec.
There are lighthearted moments in the film, such as when the young musicians discover one of the gold toilets in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, where they were housed in Baghdad on their first tour, only yards away from where Hussein himself was still jailed at the time.
Then there are heavier, almost surreal, moments such as an impromptu interview with an Afghan soldier whose family was killed by the Taliban, and who seemed to know just where Osama Bin Laden was hiding. As it was later revealed, the soldier was right.
At times, lead singer Ethan Isaac becomes the interviewer, turning the camera and microphone on American soldiers who offer candid reflections and insights into their personal lives, their missions, the dangers they face, and their incredible sense of duty. “Trying to understand what the soldiers were going through, they felt great being able to share their experiences with someone from home,” recalls Isaac.
Yet in the context of these strange and occasionally terrifying circumstances, the film is just as much the story of a young rock band on tour. Viewers see Edisun performing up close and personal for soldiers in full camouflage, talking with fans rocking out to the band’s original music (with an occasional rendition of AC DC’s classic “Highway to Hell”). “One soldier held my hand with both hands, and he wouldn’t let go. He said “Thank you so much, you have no idea how important this is,” said Svec.
Edisun’s original music is featured throughout the documentary with video highlights showing live performances by vocalist Ethan Isaac (Ridgefield, CT), guitarist Jonathan Svec (Stamford, CT), drummer Todd Budich (South Salem, NY), former bassist Jay Salley (Norwalk, CT) and former drummer Tim Newton (Fairfield, CT).
“I’m deeply proud of what Edisun accomplished, and I’m thankful for these experiences we shared as a band. Getting to know the soldiers, and seeing first hand what they went through to protect us, it made me proud to be an American, said Isaac.
Bulletproof Wings is represented by Foundation Sales and Consulting.