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The Yellow Birds (film)

The Yellow Birds is a 2017 American war film directed by Alexandre Moors and based on the novel The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Alden Ehrenreich, Toni Collette, Jason Patric, Jack Huston and Jennifer Aniston.

The Yellow Birds
The Yellow Birds.jpg
Film poster
Directed byAlexandre Moors
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onThe Yellow Birds
by Kevin Powers
Music byAdam Wiltzie
CinematographyDaniel Landin
Edited byJoe Klotz
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 21, 2017 (2017-01-21) (Sundance)
  • June 15, 2018 (2018-06-15) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
  • United States
  • Morocco
  • English
  • French
  • Arabic

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017. It was released on May 17, 2018, through DirecTV Cinema before being released in a limited release and through video on demand on June 15, 2018, by Saban Films.


Two young soldiers, Bartle (21) and Murph (18) navigate the terrors of the Iraq war under the command of the older, troubled Sergeant Sterling. All the while, Bartle is tortured by a promise he made to Murph's mother before their deployment.


  • Alden Ehrenreich as John Bartle
  • Tye Sheridan as Daniel Murphy
  • Jack Huston as Sergeant Sterling
  • Jennifer Aniston as Maureen Murphy
  • Toni Collette as Amy Bartle
  • Jason Patric as Captain Anderson
  • Carrie Wampler as Jenny Smith
  • Lee Tergesen as Jim Murphy
  • Olivia Crocicchia as Tess
  • Gershwyn Eustache Jnr as the Lieutenant
  • Daniel Jose Molina as Yasquez
  • Mikey Collins as Whitaker
  • Carter Redwood as Crockett
  • Ray Fearon as the Colonel
  • Tom Bates as the embedded Journalist
  • Renée Willett as Claire
  • Douglas McFerran as the airport bartender
  • Gwydion Lashlee-Walton as the clerk
  • T. R. Boyce, Jr. as the chaplain
  • Colton Medlin as Luke
  • Lebrandon Shead as the prison guard
  • Henry Leroy-Salta as Dentler
  • Khadija Hatimi as the old woman
  • Ahmed Izm as the hermit


David Lowery first adapted the book into a screenplay and was originally tapped to direct, but had to drop out because of a scheduling conflict with Pete's Dragon. Once Alexandre Moors replaced Lowery as director, Moors' Blue Caprice screenwriter R.F.I. Porto was brought on to revise the script. Benedict Cumberbatch and Will Poulter were originally cast but they dropped out after the project was delayed and were replaced by Jack Huston and Alden Ehrenreich.[1] The title song was written by John Mellencamp.[2][3]


Principal photography on the film began in October 2015 in Morocco,[4][5][6] and it wrapped up on January 29, 2016.[7]


The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017.[8][9] Shortly after, Saban Films and DirecTV Cinema acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[10][11] It is scheduled to be released on May 17, 2018, through DirecTV Cinema before being released in a limited release and through video on demand on June 15, 2018.[12]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 47% based on 34 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 5.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Yellow Birds has a strong cast and a worthy message, but they're both lost in this war drama's rote, clichéd story."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 15 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14]


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2017 2017 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography Daniel Landin Won
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Alexandre Moors Nominated
2017 Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award Alexandre Moors Nominated
2017 Hamptons International Film Festival Special presentations None
Not competing
2017 Deauville American Film Festival "Les Premières" Alexandre Moors
Not competing


  1. ^ McNary, Dave (May 17, 2014). "CANNES: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tye Sheridan in Iraq War Drama 'Yellow Birds'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  2. ^ Mellencamp, John (February 2, 2017). "John Mellencamp to Perform At Pennsylvania's Great Allentown Fair 8/31/17". John Mellencamp - Official Website. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  3. ^ Galuppo, Mia (December 19, 2017). "Alden Ehrenreich, Tye Sheridan and Jack Huston star in Alexandre Moors' follow-up to 'Blue Caprice'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Morocco World News (October 17, 2015). "US Film 'The Yellow Birds' To Be Filmed in Morocco". Morocco World News. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  5. ^ Goundry, Nick (October 13, 2015). "Iraq war drama The Yellow Birds to film in Morocco". KFTV. Media Business Insight. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  6. ^ Brown, Bobbi (October 27, 2015). "Jennifer Aniston Talks Effortless Hair, Easy Style (and Keeping Her Wedding Pics Secret)". Yahoo! Lifestyle. Yahoo!. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  7. ^ SSN Insider Staff (January 29, 2016). "On the Set for 1/29/16: Danny Glover Starts on 'The Good Catholic', Emily Blunt and Luke Evans Wrap 'Girl on the Train'". SSN Insider. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
  8. ^ Donnelly, Matt (November 30, 2016). "Sundance Film Festival 2017 Competitive Lineup Announced". TheWrap. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  9. ^ "The Yellow Birds". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  10. ^ Busch, Anita (December 19, 2017). "Cinelou's 'The Yellow Birds' Flies To Saban Films For Distribution". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  11. ^ Lang, Brent (January 26, 2018). "DirecTV Partners With Saban Films on 'The Yellow Birds' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  12. ^ "War Drama THE YELLOW BIRDS Premieres Exclusively On DirecTV In May". Alien Bee Entertainment News. March 18, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Yellow Birds (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  14. ^ "The Yellow Birds Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 17, 2018.

External linksEdit