Reader Pat Kremer of Lansing wrote me and asked that I get the word out about a great new film to help share the story and perspective of soldiers and the military conflict in Iraq.
"As many soldiers have recently returned from Iraq, there is one part of the war which doesn't get a whole lot of attention," Kremer said.
"We don't really hear about what happens next for the young men and women whose lives have been forever changed because of their combat experience. The documentary film 'Not Yet Begun to Fight' will make its Chicago debut at The Gene Siskel Film Center on Saturday, Feb. 9. It tells the story of the next chapter for one group of combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."
Thank you Pat for sharing this valuable opportunity with Times readers.
"Not Yet Begun to Fight" is described as "an unconventional look at the impact of war and the journey to recovery."
The screening you refer to is at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. in Chicago.
General admission is $11 at the Box Office, and advance tickets are also available at Ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 982-2787. Additionally, a special discounted admission for veterans is $7. The Film Center is fully ADA accessible. I'm told parking is recommended at the InterPark Self-Park at 20 E. Randolph.
"Not Yet Begun to Fight" has been showing across the country at select festivals and theaters, including a recent New York City Premier at Lincoln Center and has won a number of prestigious awards, including the Moving Mountains Prize at Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado, as well as the Audience Award for Best Documentary at both the Florida Film Festival and the San Diego Film Festival.
As an added bonus, attending both screenings in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center to conduct a Q&A after the film will be former U.S. Marine Erik Goodge, whose hometown is Evansville, Ind., and who is one of the wounded warriors featured in the film, along with Producer/Co-Director Sabrina Lee and Executive Producer Steve Platcow.
The film focuses on five warriors who join retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings for a week of fly-fishing in Montana. Hastings, who flew missions "high above the death and destruction" in Vietnam, returned home to Montana in 1969 battling dark dreams. His solace was fishing.
"When I came back from combat, I found I needed relief," Hastings said.
"And the more I went fly-fishing, the more I knew I needed more of it. It became an absolute desperate physical and mental need. And I had to do it, or I was going to kill someone."
Directors Shasta Grenier and Lee shadow Hastings, as he reaches out to a new generation of traumatized combat veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He leads five remarkable, intense, and vulnerable young men (three Marines, a soldier and a Navy SEAL) to the quiet waters of Montana. His mission is to help them find their way through the space between the war they have just left behind and the new battles they face.
"The hardest thing, and this probably goes for just about any wounded warrior out there, is having to learn every little thing all over again," according to Elliott Miller, a Navy SEAL who lost the ability to speak and now communicates with the automated voice of an iPad.
"Only this time, where you were once an able, barrel-chested freedom fighter and proud, now you are broken and weak and humble. And so it just adds a whole new level of difficulty to it."
To learn more about the film and its filmmakers, visit the website at notyetbeguntofightfilm.com.