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LIONESS tells the story of a group of female Army support soldiers who became the first women in American history to be sent into direct ground combat. Without sufficient training but with a commitment to serve as needed, these young women ended up fighting in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq war. Lioness makes public, for the first time, this hidden history.

Told through intimate accounts, journal excerpts, archival footage, as well as interviews with military commanders, the film follows five Lioness women who served together for a year in Iraq. With captivating detail, this probing documentary reveals the unexpected consequences that began by using these Army women to defuse tensions with local civilians, but resulted in their fighting alongside Marine combat units in the streets of Ramadi. Together the women's candid narratives describing their experiences in Iraq and scenes from their lives back home form a portrait of the emotional and psychological effects of war from a female point of view.


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The Filmmakers

Meg McLagan

Meg McLagan is a documentary filmmaker and cultural anthropologist. Her film TIBET IN EXILE, co-directed with Barbara Banks, aired on public television and was screened at festivals and museums in the U.S. and Europe. She began her film career working as a producer on the highly acclaimed independent documentary PARIS IS BURNING. McLagan's work has been supported by the Sundance Documentary Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, The Fledgling Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Meg graduated from Yale with a BA in English Literature, and earned a doctorate in cultural anthropology from New York University. In addition to her film work, McLagan is the co-editor of Visual Cultures of Nongovernmental Politics, forthcoming from Zone Books.

Daria Sommers

Daria Sommers is a filmmaker whose work includes both documentaries and narrative fiction. Her previous films include EASTERN SPIRIT WESTERN WORLD, which was broadcast by PBS, BBC and CBC and premiered at the Smithsonian, and her drama READY TO BURN which received a PanavisionÕs New Director Award.

Daria began her career at PBS and her work has garnered support from the NEH, the NEA, the Sundance Documentary Fund, The Fledgling Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures and NYSCA. She has been an artist-in-residence at the MacDowell Colony and Mass MoCA. She recently completed Sawadika American Girl, a screenplay about Americans in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Daria is a graduate of Oberlin College.

Festivals & Awards

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival


Official Selection

Winner - Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award

Tribeca Film Festival


Official Selection

Human Rights Watch Film Festival


Official Selection


LIONESS tells stories that would otherwise have been lost to history.”


Lioness tells the stories of five remarkable women in difficult circumstances. It doesn't ask its protagonists to condemn the Iraq war and it doesn't use their stories merely to back up its own condemnation. But we can draw our own conclusions about whether the losses and sacrifices of these soldiers - and of the Iraqis they've faced - have been worth it.”

-The National

This thought provoking documentary far surpasses any sociopolitical agenda.”