The Welcome

 

Review: Ashland Daily Tidings 

"Every year, there's at least one film at the Ashland Independent Film Festival that leaves audiences saying, "Everyone in America should see this."

Last year's was "Soundtrack for a Revolution," a documentary that told the story of the 1960s civil rights struggle through its inspirational songs.

The Welcome was recently featured on the television show, Immense Possibilities. Here is part one of the episode.

Here is part two of the episode.

The Trailer

Help Us Launch this Film!  

The Welcome offers a fiercely intimate view of life after war: the fear, anger and isolation of post-traumatic stress that affects vets and family members alike.  As we join  them in a small room for an unusual five day healing retreat, we witness how the ruins of war can be transformed into the beauty of poetry. Here our perceptions are changed, our psyches strained, and our hearts broken.  And at the end, when this poetry is shared with a large civilian audience, we begin to understand that  all of us are a vital piece of the Welcome as Veterans try to find the way back home.  Their examples of unflinching honesty, courage and love lift us up, inspiring all of us once again to feel our common humanity, so often the first casualty of war.

We are asking for help in making this important, non-partisan and very timely documentary film a reality. Here is our plan:

Timetable: Shooting for the film was complete in May, 2008.  Editing of the film is now complete.  It is now being be entered into appropriate festivals. We are also seeking national television broadcast and internet showings and distribution.  More important, we will be bringing the film to local communities, organizations and programs around the country.  (For more details see the "Outreach" page on this web site).

Please help us to make this a reality by making a donation that will be used in the distribution of this film.

The Story:

“You put twenty four veterans with PTSD in a room together, I think we’re  doing pretty good.  We’re not killing each other”, said Bob Eaton, one of the veterans gathered for an unusual healing retreat over the Memorial Day weekend.  He and the others, men and women veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, along with several wives, partners and parents, went out on a limb and arrived at a remote retreat center in the deep woods of S. Oregon to attempt a different kind of healing in the aftermath of war.  They would spend the next five days together, story telling, listening, arguing, struggling with the pain and fear of their injuries and Post Traumatic Stress, and doing their best to work with a novel approach to their post war traumas using traditional stories, cleansing rituals, song and the writing of their own poetry.  Making things even more challenging, the event would culminate on Memorial Day back in town in a large theater in front of, potentially, over 600 civilians.

Will this approach work for them?  Can they survive their own group conflicts and painful memories?  Will they put words to paper, and then actually deliver them on stage to hundreds of strangers?  Perhaps the ultimate question, will the community even care enough to show up?

The Welcome documents this intense and fiercely intimate five day experience, taking the viewer into the small confines of one room to join with these men and women as they take an unusual route to find the way back home again.  It is not an easy journey.  The audience is dropped into a cauldron of conflict, memory and delicate forgiveness.

Using a two camera crew, shot verite style, the audience becomes a part of the drama as it unfolds.  Michael Meade, mythologist, story teller and facilitator of the event is one of the characters.   His mesmerizing stories  about traditional cultures healing their war veterans and his willingness to encourage the vets to explore the darkness of their own fears, memories and dreams slowly results in a poetic truth-telling which invites the viewer in and  enables the audience to understand the veteran’s world and their searing pain, as well as their long buried hope.

Over the course of the film, we make a surprisingly personal connection with the vets.  Sharing their tears, laughter, hurt and rage, we recognize in them not only our friends and neighbors, but ourselves.  Our perceptions are changed, our psyches strained, and our hearts broken.  Yet, their examples of unflinching honesty, courage and love, lift us up.  In the end, we are ALL welcomed home after a disorienting journey, returning again to our common humanity.