Focus Features Teams with AOL to Promote Documentary

Universal Pictures’ Focus Features has joined forces with AOL to promote the upcoming release of the new documentary, “The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends.”

The film by Patricia Foulkrod takes as its subject the soldier’s experience of the Iraq war — specifically training, combat, homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities — and its tie-in with AOL will attempt to do the same using interactive and social networking elements

The online effort centers around a profile of the film on AOL’s AIM Pages social networking service. The profile contains blogs and video posts by veterans who appear in the film, and allows visitors to connect with them by offering online feedback and commentary.

“It’s not about marketing as much as it is telling a story,” said AOL VP of original programming Jordan Kurzweil. “We’ve taken the guts of the film and presented them in a way that’s specific to online.”

Focus and AOL hope to increase ticket sales by building community around the film and its characters in advance of the theatrical release. Just as the soldiers share their experience and the challenges they face as they battle personal demons, site visitors can share their own stories about family and friends involved in the war.

Additionally, when it’s shown in theaters, the AIM Pages URL will display at the film’s end, providing an outlet for those who feel they want to take action or lend support from a distance, the companies said.

Kurzwel said AOL approached the studio with the idea of trying an integration with its social networking service. “We saw this film at Sundance,” he says, ” and ended up reaching out to Focus once they had bought the film.”

The film is scheduled for limited theatrical release on September 15, with a special edition DVD release to follow. But those looking for a preview, or who live outside the theatrical release range, will be able to catch a version of “Web appropriate” length prior to the release. Information on this screening, and an opportunity to sign up for an electronic alert, will be available soon on The Ground Truth AIM page.

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