When we launched ‘After The War’ on Kickstarter, our objective was no-frills and time-sensitive: raise at least enough to develop the story this fall. Thanks to our backers, we’ve reached that goal and begin filming next month. We’re energized and deeply moved by the grassroots support – we couldn’t do this without you. In the remaining weeks of the campaign we’re working to raise enough to get into the editing room. Join us. Make it happen. If you like the trailer and want to see more, please kick in. Every pledge is significant and deeply appreciated. Every pledge moves us a little bit closer to bringing this story into the world. The real cost of war knows no bounds. Please kick in what you can for ‘After The War.’
AFTER THE WAR
A documentary feature film in production.
Part social commentary, part spiritual odyssey, AFTER THE WAR is a portrait of a decorated soldier, traumatized veteran, self-described street junkie, author and ordained Zen Buddhist monk named Claude AnShin Thomas.
More than 43,000 troops have been wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more active duty soldiers and veterans have died from suicide than from combat wounds in the past two years.
Through the prism of Thomas's singular story, the film will explore:
• the causes and consequences of war
• the possibility of healing the 'invisible wounds' of war
• the unsentimental practice of nonviolence
"All veterans of violence can be a powerful force for healing in the world. We have the ability to pierce the darkness of denial: our society's and our own."
-- Claude AnShin Thomas
The trailer for AFTER THE WAR was edited from interviews conducted with Thomas earlier this year.
A combat veteran, Thomas hasn't slept for more than two hours straight since he left Vietnam. A mendicant monk, he maintains a vow of poverty and lives most of his life on the road. During our interviews, his gripping and often brutal depiction of his experience in Vietnam, and the long nightmare that followed, slowly gave way to a moving account of personal transformation and spiritual awakening.
Thomas gives voice to generations of veterans who have been overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, fear, anger, despair and isolation. Years ago, at his first meeting with Vietnamese Zen monk Thich Nhat Han, Thomas was told, "You veterans understand deeply the nature of suffering. You are the light at the tip of the candle. You burn hot and bright." With Thich Nhat Han's encouragement, Thomas found his voice and today works with veterans of violence -- war violence, street violence, domestic violence, from all walks of life -- to help them find theirs.
This spring, Thomas gave a workshop for veterans with post-traumatic stress and their families at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. The participants included a D-Day veteran, several Korean war veterans, many Vietnam veterans, and more than a few veterans from the current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of whom was preparing for his third deployment. For five remarkable days they practiced meditation and shared stories, which ranged from the unsparingly horrific to the sublime. Thomas was a calm and focused presence. By all accounts, the workshop was a life-changer; for some, a lifesaver. One Marine with a tattooed face addressed the group at the end. "I haven't cried in 43 years," he said. "Last night my eyes watered. Maybe next year I'll cry."
This film is for him, and for all veterans of violence and war who burn hot and bright.
We have immediate plans to develop the film on two important fronts, both of which promise powerful new content and imagery:
1. This fall, Thomas will travel through the Southwest to conduct a series of workshops, similar to the one described above. As a mendicant monk he travels without any money and often by foot. To begin filming him on pilgrimage, to see him at work with combat veterans and to capture the subtle dynamics of these workshops is a crucial next step in advancing the story. To get there, we need your help.
2. We want to open up the film to veterans who intimately know the reality of war but are unfamiliar with Thomas or his work. To that end, we have a rare opportunity to document a reunion, a camping trip in the Rockies, between two friends who haven't seen one another since they enlisted seven years ago. One served during the Iraq surge, the other is returning soon from Afghanistan. With their generous participation and your support, we'll begin a dialogue about the complexity of coming home. The trip is scheduled for September.
We've set a minimum goal of $20,000 to continue with the next stage of filming, scheduled for late summer and autumn, 2011.
Every dollar we receive will go directly into the production of AFTER THE WAR, including: HD video and audio equipment rentals; the purchase of storage drives, memory cards and assorted gear; meals, accommodations and airfare (six round-trips) for our three-person crew; car rentals and fuel; modest crew salaries.
Anything that remains will go directly into the post-production of an extended trailer to present to grant committees and potential donors down the road.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. We greatly appreciate any and all financial contributions. If you like the trailer and want to see more, please consider supporting our efforts.
2. Spread the word. Please reach out to your friends and network. A ripple effect of interest and small donations will help get us over the top.
3. Become a fan on our facebook page. Simple!
4. Follow us on twitter. @AfterTheWarFilm
Mary Bosakowski Writer / Producer / Director
Henry Jacobson Director of Photography
Sam Bathrick Editor / Sound
Sam Bathrick, Mary Bosakowski, Henry Jacobson
To Sgt. Chris Barker for permitting us to include his self-portrait both in the trailer and as an incentive for donors.
To Laurent Clerc of Little People for permitting us to use his beautiful track, Moon, for the trailer (from the album Mickey Mouse Operation).
ABOUT CLAUDE ANSHIN THOMAS
Claude AnShin Thomas went to Vietnam at the age of 18, where he received numerous awards and decorations, including 27 Air Medals, a Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart. Today he is a monk in the Soto Zen tradition and an active speaker and Zen teacher in the United States, Europe and South America. He is also the founder of the Zaltho Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes peace and nonviolence.
Thomas is the author of a memoir entitled "At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace."
"This is a book of great power. Thomas's story has the power to heal, to inspire, and to teach." -- John Laurence, former CBS News Correspondent and author of "The Cat from Hué: A Vietnam War Story."
Thank you for believing in AFTER THE WAR.
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