Camp Courage (2023) Movie Review – A tear-jerking reminder of how war is hell

A tear-jerking reminder of how war is hell

War is hell. And anyone caught up in this, can see their lives changed in an instant. Netflix’s latest short documentary, aptly titled Camp Courage, follows 10 year old Milana and her grandmother Olga. In 2022, the pair leave to go to a week-long summer camp in the Austrian Alps. However, the pair do so as refugees, joined by other families fleeing the conflict with Russia.

This is a short and simple documentary, but also one packed with heart and a gut-wrenching anti-war message. Seeing Milana’s plight, and her experiences leading up to her summer, is equal parts inspiring and devastating.

We won’t go into specifics here, but anyone who has kids will immediately empathize with Olga’s situation and her concerns with Milana’s current pre-teen years. As someone with a 9 year old daughter and 12 year old son, this segment of the doc particularly hits home and other parents will likely share that same sentiment.

But then there are other moments here that stand out too. Hearing from Milana about how she likens her grandmother to being a second mum, and hearing the camp director (who happens to be a war vet that served in Iraq himself) how he feels about war is another important and poignant moment.

In fact, this ties into the theme of the documentary, which comes from conquering one’s fear and trying to move through trauma to something that’s less nightmarish. But then war is hell, and anyone who has suffered from PTSD will tell you that it creeps up on you when you least expect. And trying to keep that bottled up is a recipe for disaster.

When kids are stripped of their innocence and put through the ringer, the strain is unbearably cruel and tough to stomach. Milana’s bravery is a testament to the human spirit, but it’s also a harsh reminder of how war can strip the innocence from those caught in the crossfire. To paraphrase a famous quote from Roosevelt: “I have seen war, and i hate war”.

Camp courage is a must-watch short doc. Its well produced, tightly edited and placed with emotional segments that will bring a tear to your eye.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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