March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Filmmaker explores the changing times in Afghanistan in 'Outside the Wire,' showing this weekend at Riverwalk Theatre


Thursday, Sept. 22 — When Anthony Hornus ran into old high school classmate Vic Kuchar, a retired colonel in the United States Air Force, that chance encounter changed the direction of his life.

“We met at a local pub and got to talking. He told me about all the trips he made to Afghanistan,” explained Hornus, 58, of Corunna. “He showed me these incredible pictures of Afghan children, who are under threat of death everyday. It’s a very impoverished country, of course, and yet the kids are all smiling. It struck me, it stayed with me. I said there has to be another side to this war story and indeed there was.”

This meeting several years ago inspired Corunna, who was an award-winning journalist for 32 years, to write, produce and direct “Outside the Wire: The Forgotten Children of Afghanistan,” a documentary about the children caught in the crossfire of war-torn Afghanistan. The film will be screened at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, and at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing. Hornus, a Riverwalk alumnus, and Dennis Therrian, editor and composer of “Outside the Wire,” will be present at all the screenings for discussions and question and answer sessions.

Hornus spent two weeks in Afghanistan in 2008, having gained access to travel with small military units that are going above and beyond the call of duty in the name of empowering the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and children.

“First of all, we have to define winning in Afghanistan,” Hornus explained. “It’s not going to look like a Western democracy. It’s not going to be perfect like a Western democracy — although we aren’t either. To win in Afghanistan, we have to educate the children: We have to teach them to reject violence as being the answer to anything. We have to teach them tolerance and understanding for people of all races, colors and creeds. By doing that, we will shift the majority’s thinking for future generations. It won’t happen overnight, but it is happening; it’s starting over there.”

For one thing, girls in Afghanistan now have access to educational opportunities.

“They’ve never had that in the past. These are the ones who inspired me to make this film. People are people everywhere and kids are kids everywhere. We have to start there and build. It sounds nave but it’s really not; it’s the only way we can ‘win,’ whether it’s in Afghanistan or Egypt or Libya. People are sick of this. They’re sick of being under the thumb of dictators, of not having any hope in their lives — that’s what this movie is all about.”

According to Hornus, only U.S. forces and those of the International Security Assistance Force, which is comprised of 46 member countries, can get this desperately needed humanitarian aid into villages that are so isolated and dangerous that non-governmental organizations and United Nations relief agencies dare not venture into them.

“We’re building roads, we’re building schools, we’re building health clinics, we’re teaching the Afghans how to do their own security, we’re teaching them medicine, we’re teaching them animal husbandry, we’re teaching them agriculture,” Hornus said. “The U.S. troops over there were so receptive. They knew what we were doing and they were thanking us. They were saying, ‘People just don’t come over here and stay with us for two weeks. They’re over here for a few hours. You guys are gonna tell the completely different side of the mission over here, which nobody’s hearing about.’ This is a completely different, unique take.”

According to Hornus, “Outside the Wire” has received accolades from W. Clark Bunting, president of The Discovery Channel and a Michigan State University alumnus; Michael Dix, a producer for the Oprah Winfrey Network; and New York Times best-selling novelist and Owosso resident Diane Carey.

“I love the Afghan people. They’re a beautiful people; they really are. To categorize them with radicals isn’t unfair. It’s like categorizing us with criminals. They want exactly what we want: to feed their kids, put a roof over their heads and give them a chance in life. We lose sight of this. We just want to paint people with the same brush. … It’s all about integrity and the way you treat people. It taught me how to get to my core of humanity.”

'Outside the Wire'

8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24; 2 and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25

Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Dr., Lansing


(517) 482-5700 or

Tickets are also available at the door one hour prior to each screening.

An afterglow party will be held after the Saturday screening with filmmakers Anthony Hornus and Dennis Therrian. Both filmmakers will also be present at the two Sunday screenings.