AFTER THE WAR
The insidious nature of post-traumatic stress, and the complex question of how it's healed, is explored through the personal journeys of three American combat veterans from three different wars. After The War is in early production.
Since the time of Homer’s Odyssey, warriors have struggled to make the daunting transition from the blood and chaos of the battlefield to the alien landscape of the civilian world.
Today, more active duty troops die by their own hand than at war. American veterans commit suicide, on average, every 80 minutes. For every suicide, hundreds of thousands of women and men from current conflicts and wars long forgotten are struggling with psychic trauma. Conservative estimates from the military suggest an epidemic of post-traumatic stress among new veterans.
After The War focuses a complex, critical issue through an intimate lens, following the personal post-war odysseys of three American veterans as they navigate the consequences of their combat experience. Each of these veterans knows the ravages of war directly. Each challenges stereotypes of the traumatized vet. Each is at a different stage in a long journey home. They are:
Terry Corts, Vietnam. Terry was wounded in action in January 1970 but the worst trauma came on April 1st of that year, when he survived an ambush that killed his best friend and killed or wounded most of the men in his platoon. The battle also claimed the life of the only American general killed on the ground during the Vietnam War. In memory and real time, Terry’s story reveals the journey of a man who has learned to live with the burden of war. It will include insight and perspective from Dr. Frank Ochberg, one of the world’s leading experts on the treatment and understanding of post-traumatic stress and a pivotal character in Terry’s life.
Grace Sanchez, Desert Storm/Desert Shield. A minister’s daughter from a small Arkansas town, Grace joined the military to “see the world.” A seasoned marine, she fought off predatory commanding officers and served on the frontline in Kuwait. Grace’s story, and her life today as an artist, portrays a woman confronting war’s trauma and legacy in her community and on her own terms. “Returning vets are critical messengers to the rest of society,” she says. “We’re all woven into the fabric of war.”
Chris Barker, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Chris joined the Army after college, enlisted as a private and served as an infantry team leader at the height of the Iraq surge. Married with two young sons, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress in 2010. “Where do I go from here?” he asks. Chris’s story poignantly reveals the alone-ness of the returning warrior as well as the hardship and emotions bubbling beneath the sometimes-stoic surface of those directly affected by post-traumatic stress. We’ve begun filming with Chris and his family and will continue to follow their story throughout production.
What do veterans and their families endure in our names? How do they – how do we – reconcile war’s trauma and legacy with life on the home front? What does it take, what does it mean, to heal war’s hidden wounds?
Set against an American landscape of modest dreams and tattered yellow ribbons, these three individual stories – as brutal and sublime as war itself – will unfold and interweave to tell a larger, collective story of survival and hope, after the war.
For a closer look at our characters and creative approach, please see:
Although it was being fought half a world away, I grew up with the Vietnam War. It unfolded on the pages of Life magazine and permeated the nightly news with a tension that couldn't be ignored, not even by a child. The images haunted me as I searched for my oldest brother's face among the troops. I wanted to know what would happen “after” the war -- after the camera was removed from scenes of napalmed children, hollow-eyed soldiers and tearful reunions on the tarmac. These indelible scenes, and the questions they provoked, were the original seeds of inspiration for After The War.
The plight of returning warriors and their journey toward healing and wholeness is a critically important issue that affects us all. Their stories, laid bare, need to be heard and absorbed with the dignity and compassion they deserve.
Terry Corts, Grace Sanchez and Chris Barker are ordinary veterans who are sharing their lives and stories with extraordinary courage and candor. Together they represent countless generations whose stories have been lost on the battlefield: too painful for the warrior to express, too remote for the civilian to comprehend. By bearing witness, we break down the walls of silence and indifference that separate us and entangle us in endless conflict. We gain entry to an authentic, evocative story of the national mental health crisis among combat veterans and its impact on the immediate circle of family and friends. We encounter the human face of war on the home front and move a step closer to seeing these stories as our own.
"What stories can do ... is make things present. I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God. I can be brave. I can make myself feel again."
~ Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried"
Mary Bosakowski - Director/Producer
A writer, producer and director for over 20 years, Mary Bosakowski is drawn to the dignity of the human story and the power of visual storytelling. Her documentary credits include What is Yoga featuring Willem Dafoe, Musical Architecture about singer/songwriter Laura Nyro and Echo, with artist Jaume Plensa. Her commercial, corporate and non-profit work has been seen on-air, online, at advocacy events on Capitol Hill and on digital kiosks in Times Square. Early video collaborations with poets and musicians in NYC were screened at the New Museum, the Knitting Factory and La Mama. After The War is her first independent documentary feature.
Henry Jacobson - Cinematographer/Producer
Henry Jacobson is a photographer and filmmaker based in New York. He is the cinematographer, director, and/or producer on many documentary films, including Fambul Tok (director TV version, DP on original theatrical version directed by Sara Terry), which premiered to critical acclaim at SXSW 2011 film festival. Other documentary features include Folk, Truth in Translation, Sound and Vision and the upcoming Persistence Hunt. His “fashion films” have garnered much attention, the first of which, Lost/Loved, appeared in the Love and War exhibit at the 2011 NY Photo Festival. His still photography has been published and exhibited internationally.
Sam Bathrick - Editor/Audio/Producer
Sam Bathrick specializes in documentary content. He has shot, produced and edited for clients including ESPN, History Channel, EA Sports, Billboard Music, Rockefeller Foundation, Vibe, Ebony, CARE, Current TV and Pandora. Bathrick produced the Emmy nominated Tribeca fan favorite Run For Your Life and was location manager for the HBO Latino Film Festival winner, Liberty Kid. He recently directed a music video for legendary recording artists Vieux Farka Touré and Dave Matthews. He is currently directing and editing the PBS travel series Music Voyager.
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