For six months documentarian Janus Metz embedded with Danish troops at a forward operating base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, to shoot the 2010 documentary Armadillo. Most of his subjects are barely old enough to shave but just the right age to have grown up playing first-person-shooter video games, which they do to kill time when not trampling villagers’ crops while on patrol outside the base.
Metz’s cameras seem to pervade every second of the soldiers’ lives, whether they’re watching porn during downtime, killing five Taliban in a wooded ravine at the film’s climax, or boasting about it during their post-firefight adrenaline high. The documentary sparked controversy in Denmark over whether the soldiers broke rules of engagement during the encounter; it’s unclear from the film. Metz’s unrestrained access, combined with post-production work that yielded glossy footage and seemingly scripted scenes, can make you forget you’re watching a documentary. When you remember, it’s harrowing. —Tate Watkins