“Anthropologists as Spies?” was the headline of a recent article in The Nation about a controversial U.S. Army program that enlists academics to serve in a war zone. Their mission: to help soldiers gain an understanding of and then access to the people whose country has been invaded. Human Terrain focuses on one of these professors, Michael Bhatia from Brown University (a colleague of Human Terrain co-director James Derrian). Sent to Afghanistan by the military, Bhatia hopes that he can help reduce casualties on both sides; instead the academic finds an alien world, and things do not go as planned. A colleague discussing Bhatia’s work explains, “People become anthropologists because they want to reach out to the other. They want to understand the other and think that understanding each other enhances the dignity of the other.” As this compelling film shows, that’s almost impossible to do in a war zone.