Aspiring soldiers and returning veterans cross paths in scenario paintball. Young players “level-up” from video games.¬† War weary vets use the games therapeutically to level-down. The virtual and real are meshed in these spontaneous theatrical events.

This experimental documentary, inspired by the work of Haron Farocki, takes us through a virtual reality game produced by the U.S. military for training soldiers about the mental risks of war. We toggle back and forth between virtual events happening on the battlefield and documentary footage taken at massive scenario paintball games. The real story is cartoon, and the fake story is filmed live.

Photographer and filmmaker Ruth Dusseault has documented these events for 8 years.  She filmed throughout America during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reflecting a subconscious military stream in American popular culture and a fantasy of war translated through the seductive media that surrounds us.