The Film


Welcome to the official website for the documentary film Grounds for Resistance by Lisa Gilman.

The view full film: Grounds for Resistance is now available for screening on YouTube:

In November 2008, a group of U.S. veterans opened COFFEE STRONG, a coffee shop located outside the gates of the U.S. Army base Fort Lewis in Washington. Inspired by the Vietnam-era G.I. coffee house movement, Coffee Strong provides a safe space where service members, military families, and veterans can drink coffee and discuss issues, such as their experiences of war, deployment concerns, the hardships of life in the military, and veteran benefits.

Members of Coffee Strong–most of whom were deployed one or more times to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all of whom are under the age of 30–provide G.I. rights counseling and direct people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual assault, discrimination, recruiter abuse, and medical and legal problems to the appropriate resources. They also provide counseling for those seeking options for leaving the military early, including entry-level, dependency, hardship, medical, psychological, and conscientious objection. Visitors to Coffee Strong read books from the free library, use the free computers with Internet access, explore literature on war and imperialism, and enjoy special events, such as punk rock shows and movie nights.

This fifty minute documentary film is about Coffee Strong: its importance for its most active members, active duty soldiers and their families, veterans of recent and past conflicts, and regional and national political movements. At the center of the film are the men and women whose experiences in the military and war compel them to commit themselves to help others who are serving or have served in the past. Each individual featured in the film exists within a nuanced tangle of conflicting emotions tied to pride, dedication to service, friendship, anger, disillusionment, sadness, and guilt. The film examines each one’s stories from their decisions to join the military, their experiences of war, and their motivations for devoting themselves to Coffee Strong. It explores how their relationships with one another and their activist efforts to make a more peaceful and just world help them cope with their own experiences.

35 Responses to The Film

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Where can we see GfR in Seattle? Can we plug it on our website?

    I was at your presentation at SEM in LA in November and wanted to thank you for that and your work in general. I was involved in a few things with the Shelter Half and Pacific Counseling Service in Tacoma in the early ’70s and hope to check in with Coffee Strong some time soon.

    • lmgilman says:

      Hi Bill,

      You’re the first person to find my website! How exciting. The film is almost finished, but not quite ready to be screened. It will be screened in Olympia on May 14, and some of the people featured will be there for Q&A. You might really enjoy coming down for that. You could visit Coffee Strong on the way. As soon as I have the specific details about this event, I will post on this site.

      In the meantime, I am finishing up final editing and figuring out how to duplicate and package it. Once I’ve done that, it would be great if you would plug it on your website. I’m also going to be counting on folks around the country to organize screenings, so if you’re interested in either organizing something public in Seattle or hosting something more private, that would be great.

      That’s neat that you were involved with Shelter Half. I’ve met a few other people at Coffee Strong who were involved in Shelter Half who now live in Seattle. I just looked at the Harmonic Dissidents website. Very fun!

  2. Will we get some kind of automatic notification on the Oly showing?

    My neighbor, Jill Friedberg, is Corrugated Films Her recent work has been on Oaxaca and before that on the WTO in Seattle. She knows a bit about promoting indy video, and of course she is always busy.

    She added the English subtitles to “Sigueme Contando” (about 3/4 down the home page on our website, for us and gave me some advice on duplicating the DVD. If only I could remember it . . . something like “don’t get it duplicated, get it copied. ” Or vice versa. Anyway Pip McCaslin at RealTime in Seattle has a good reputation and he was easy to work with. I’m sure there are a lot of places that can copy and package DVDs.

    If you want, you can track Jill down at her website or I could hook you up.

  3. Nathan Moore says:

    Looking forward to this film!

  4. Wendy Beck says:

    Lisa, how thrilling to find your website! Do you have any posters that I can put up at the Library? At the very least I can pin up a few in the break room and the common area for patrons. Looking forward to seeing all of your hard work on the big screen!

    • lmgilman says:

      Hi Wendy. How thrilling to have people find the website! Posters are being made as we speak. I’ll get some to you once I get them. I’ll also be sending out an announcement over email in the next day or two that you can send out to folks that you think might be interested. And soon (hopefully this weekend), I’ll post a trailer on the website and on youtube — gotta figure out how to do all of this.

  5. Siri Margerin says:

    Totally looking forward to seeing and promoting this film! Please add me to your list of folks to keep updated. our chapter of Civilian Soldier Alliance down here in the Bay Area will definitely host some screenings.

    • Lisa Gilman says:

      Hi Siri,

      Thanks for getting in touch. After the May 14 screening, I’ll devote my energies to duplication and packaging, after which the film will be available for purchase and other screenings. I’ll be in touch when that happens! How did you hear about it?

  6. Richard Selvage says:

    I went to your movie “Grounds for Resistance” at the Capitol Theatre in Olympia last night (4/14/2011). It was a very moving event. Please notify me when you have the final release of the DVD video, I would like to buy a copy.



  7. Hannah Offutt says:

    Lisa! I just found out about this! This is exciting!

    • Lisa Gilman says:

      Funny, I didn’t know you were you when I received this message! Great to see you yesterday and to meet Michael. Have a safe trip, and hopefully we can arrange a screening for the film in Preoria!

  8. Jim and Robin Friedman says:

    Lisa, We are looking forward to viewing the film on DVD, please let us know when it will be released.

  9. Greg Miller says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Just wanted to let you know I saw your film the other night in Olympia, and loved it. I’m an OIF vet that returned last year, and have been going through some of the things the guys at the shop and in the film have. Until recently, when I walked into CS for the first time, I’ve had some trouble defining how I felt, and whether or not I should even feel that way, but I can say your film really hit the nail on the head. It’s so to the point that I could just show it to someone rather than trying to explain how I feel, and they’d understand me, as well as so many other vets experiencing the same things. Great job.


  10. Nathan Moore says:

    An excellent and unique film! “Grounds For Resistance” both explores the pressures and stresses that young veterans and soldiers contend with on a daily basis and highlights an inspiring form of activism on the ground. The interviews with the Coffee Strong’s founders, staff, and supporters are in-depth, personal, and very moving. The film does a great job at drawing the viewer in to each story and experience.

    Thanks to the young veterans, too, who drove down from Washington to answer questions about the film. It was much appreciated.

  11. I was wanting to find out how I could arrange a screening of the film for the peace community here in Oklahoma City.

    BTW, I think I met you at Coffee Strong a while back. I was the lawyer on the Travis Bishop case.

    • Lisa Gilman says:

      Hi James,

      Thanks for getting in touch. You’re in the film and on my list of people to send a copy to once its finished. Its in the process of being duplicated; I should have the copies in about one week. Please send me your mailing address to my email: and I can send you a copy. If you also email me a phone #, I’ll call you about arranging a screening.

  12. Patty France says:

    This is amazing to see! A film about Coffee Strong! I am currently deployed and have had my art work in two of their vet art showcases! I am going to have a copy of the film sent to my home so it will be waiting when I get back. I am stationed at Fort Lewis. All the volunteers there are awesome! Thanks for making a film about such a great coffee shop!

  13. Judith Gilman says:

    I postponed watching the DVD of this film until I could watch it with a friend because I was afraid it would be depressing. It wasn’t. I found the film to be sad, hopeful, informative, and thought provoking. Several conversations on the topic have come up with with frtiends in the few days since I saw it. The young veterans show great intelligence and insightfuless. My friend who watched it with me commented at the end–“that is an excellent piece of journalism. It makes me want to contribute.”

  14. Jill says:


    I tried replying to an email you sent me asking me if I’d chat with you about distribution. The email bounced back. Try again and send me an alternate email address. Thanks!
    Jill Freidberg

  15. David Berrian says:

    Does the DVD have English subtitles or closed captions?
    This is important to me because I am hard of hearing, but from experiance at showing films to community groups I find that many normal hearing people also make use of written cues, such as people for whom English is a 2nd language and people who sit near the back where the film is being shown. For documentaries of this sort understanding the words is especially important.
    If the DVD does not already have English subtitles and if you would like it to, let me know. We might be able to do something about that.

    • Lisa Gilman says:

      Hi David,

      The film does not have subtitles, but I would be very interested in creating some. Some people have also expressed interest in having it translated, and making English subtitles could be a first step. I’m curious what you mean by “we might be able to do something about that”?

      • David Berrian says:

        I do some film making with Raven Productions and probably could add English subtitles if I had access to the video and audio files used to create the DVD (I edit in Final Cut Studio Pro). If you have a transcript, I might be able to add the subtitles at a very reasonable cost (e.g. free or perhaps a cup of coffee). If that would help, let me know.

  16. Eye Floaters says:

    How we tret our veterans is embarrassing. They gave their courage for our country and deserve to be treated like royalty. Thank you!

  17. Susan says:

    My son was in this documentary, but I’ve never had an opportunity to see it. I wanted to buy a copy, but can’t find out how to do so. Could you help with that?

    • Lisa Gilman says:

      Hi Susan,

      Who is your son? The film is for sale for $25, however, since your son is in the film, I’ll send you a copy at no cost. Please send me your name and address, and I’ll put it in the mail on Monday.


  18. Barbara Dane says:

    Hello Lisa,
    A friend just sent me notice of the availability of your film. When I looked at the trailer, I was instantly reminded of so many conversations with active duty GI’s during Vietnam war. I spent about five years doing support work with my singing during those days, all over the map, and fondly remember the great people at the Shelter Half. I’m 85 now, and don’t get around well, but your trailer made me want to get right out there again.. Imagine what seeing the whole film will do! I’m ordering a copy of the DVD and can’t wait to see it. I’m deeply grateful for your persistence in getting this film made, because of the young lives it will help to save and the young minds and hearts it will help to heal. Warmly, Barbara Dane

    • Lisa Gilman says:

      Hi Barbara,

      Thanks for your order. I put a copy in the mail to you this morning. Sad that this type of activism continues to be necessary. You’ll see a nod to the Shelter Half in the film. Let me know what you think.


    • Dave Blalock says:

      Hi Barbara…. Glad to see that you’re still alive & kicking,
      After returning from Vietnam in 1970 I first heard about you and your raidcal singing while active in an underground anti war GI group based at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. Your music & fighting spirit helped to inspire us soldiers to continue our quest of to bring an end to America’s UNJUST WAR!!

      As I’m sure you’re already aware, the USA’s imperial wars did not end with Vietnam and neither did the GI resistance. A new generation of anti war GI/veterans have jumped-up and hoisted-up the ANTI WAR BANNER. Through internet blogs, underground e-newspapers, and of course GI coffee houses their culture of resistance is spreading far & wide.

      I’m a firm beleiver in that, “IF YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR HISTORY… YOU WON’T UNDERSTAND TODAY!” So I’m requesting that you send anything you have that will help today’s generation understand today; music, words or thoughts. Please send to this GI Coffeehouse started by Iraq War veteran/deserter Chris Capps in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

      Thanks a lot….. Dave Blalock

      Send to: The Clearing Barrel GI Bar & Coffeehouse

  19. Val says:

    Very interested. I had no idea the majority of the members of Coffee Strong were deployed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s