Director Amir Bar-Lev discusses his documentary “The Tillman Story.” It tells the story of Pat Tillman, a professional football player who left the NFL to join the Army Rangers in 2002 and became an instant symbol of patriotic fervor and unflinching duty. When the government tried to turn his death into propaganda, Pat’s mother led the family’s crusade to reveal the truth beneath the mythology of their son’s life and death. “The Tillman Story” opens Friday, August 20, at the AMC Lincoln Square Cinema and Sunshine Landmark Cinema.
In April of 2004, a tragic but inspiring story came back from the battlefields of Afghanistan. Pat Tillman, the professional football player who’d given up his career to join the Army Rangers, had been killed.
The official account of Tillman's death described him as single-handedly saving the lives of dozens of men during an ambush. His friends, family and nation grieved. The media and government propped him up as a symbol of courage and national pride. He was awarded a posthumous Silver Star for his valor.
But five weeks later, the story about Tillman changed. The military announced in a press conference that he had actually died by friendly fire, but reiterated that he was a hero nonetheless, and continued to depict him as a symbol of the war.