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THE BLACK STRING is a Trip of the Mind

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD and screening at the GI Film Festival San Diego from director Brian Hanson and Lionsgate is a story of twists and bends and a trail of THE BLACK STRING.

Jonathan (Frankie Muniz) is a lonely young man who works in a convenience store. He is avoiding his parents and often takes advice from friend Eric (Blake Webb) on how to get out into the world. One night at home he sees a commercial for companionship and is drawn to call. The next night he has a blind date with Dena (Chelsea Edmundson) who rushes Jonathan into spending the night.

The next morning Dena is gone but leaves behind a mysterious rash and Jonathan is instantly freaked out. If that isn't enough, he starts experiencing strange disturbances that turn into actions he knows are caused by whatever is eating at him. Looking for answers, Eric and his parents decide he is detached from reality and so the fight begins to prove what he knows is true with the forces that are pushing everyone away.

Turning to a woman named Melinda (Mary K. DeVault) for help, she tries to guide him before turning back is no longer an option. Explaining that she knows exactly what he is going through, the process is painful, terrorizing and one that begs the question of who is responsible and how can they be stopped!

Muniz as Jonathan is a young man who clearly is not the popular guy in town. Rather shy he is often mistook for someone who can be pushed around and easily manipulated. He lets things go, that is until pushed to his limits trying to survive something he doesn't understand. Muniz makes that performance terrifyingly believable and that's important because this story is deliberate in the telling leaving each encounter even creepier than the last.

Webb as Eric is the outgoing, a little nutty and colorful friend to Jonathan, that is until he sees something happening to his friend that he can't handle. DeVault as Melinda tries to help Jonathan as much as she can without getting herself back into a place that obviously terrifies her.

Shout out to Alexander Ward as The Entity because anything that does what his, well, entity does is just a tad creepier than I need. It is a creature that I think we've all dreamt about in our scary dreams and here it is in the flesh so to speak.

Other cast include Richard Handley as Dr. Ronaldi, Colby French as Mr. Marsh, Laura Richardson as Mrs. March, Ravi Patel as Dr. May, Jackie Moore as Lollypop, Jenny Strubin as Winter Gary Sievers as Homeless Mike, and Cullen Douglas as the Man in Black.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com. 

The DVD and Digital Special Features include Audio Commentary with Director and Cowriter Brian Hanson and Producer Charles Bunce, String Theory: The Making of THE BLACK STRING Featurette, Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes.  

THE BLACK STRING was the Official Selection at the Austin Film Festival in 2018 and will be a feature film presented at the GI Film Festival in San Diego in late September. If you want to enjoy a fright on the big screen visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org to purchase tickets and view the scheduled time. 

Muniz gives a performance that adds to the films deeply disturbing story. Trying to make his way in the world with parents who don't see his potential, it doesn't help when he takes a step forward to try and date. Although I personally wouldn't call a hotline for that, the character of Jonathan would and it's believable. 

The creepiness of the film is watching Muniz character try and discover what is true and what isn't because, at times, I wasn't sure myself. When he is told that the answers are right in front of him, I went on the hunt for clues right along with the character. That's always a fun way to keep the scary in check.

Of playing the role, Muniz says, "It's amazing when you can look at a project you've done and say 'man, we worked hard'. I am thrilled with it and I hope people enjoy it to."

In the end - paranoia cuts deep!
THE BLACK STRING: Speaking with Director Brian Hanson

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to the GI Film Festival San Diego this Friday and being released soon on DVD from Lionsgate and director Brian Hanson is the psychological thriller THE BLACK STRING.

Jonathan (Frankie Muniz) is a lonely young man who works in a convenience store. He is avoiding his parents and often takes advice from friend Eric (Blake Webb) on how to get out into the world. One night at home he sees a commercial for companionship and is drawn to call. The next night he has a blind date with Dena (Chelsea Edmundson) who rushes Jonathan into spending the night.

The next morning Dena is gone but leaves behind a mysterious rash and Jonathan is instantly freaked out. If that isn't enough, he starts experiencing strange disturbances that turn into actions he knows are caused by whatever is eating at him. Looking for answers, Eric and his parents decide he is detached from reality and so the fight begins to prove what he knows is true with the forces that are pushing everyone away.

Turning to a woman named Melinda (Mary K. DeVault) for help, she tries to guide him before turning back is no longer an option. Explaining that she knows exactly what he is going through, the process is painful, terrorizing and one that begs the question of who is responsible and how can they be stopped!

THE BLACK STRING has nominations for Frankie Muniz for Best Actor and is showing as its San Diego Premier. In attendance is the director Brian Hanson. Director Hanson, currently in Los Angeles, has a connection to San Diego and now the GI Film Festival. The writer/director Brian Hanson served in the US Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed several times to Afghanistan. He volunteers with Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME) and grew up in Escondido studying film at Palomar College and SDSU.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Hanson about how the film story came to be and what it took to get the right locations, cinematography and cast to bring THE BLACK STRING to fruition. 

Jeri Jacquin: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today Brian.

Brian Hanson: Of course, thank you as well.

JJ: I'm excited to see you at the film festival.

BH: I know, it's going to be great.

JJ: I talked to Frankie and he had nothing but high praise for you.

BH: Thank you Frankie.

JJ: I will ask you what I asked him with how did you get involved with the project? This is a very unusual project.

BH: I got involved because about 10 years ago I was a film school grad bartending. I am originally from San Diego and came up to Cal State Northridge. Film is my thing and my buddy Andy (Warrener) was also a bartender. We conceived of this idea of a guy, we know we wanted it to be a horror movie and we love psychological thrillers first of all. We wanted it to be like a JACOBS LADDER (1990) where you never know if it's in the guy's head and we wanted to set it up in a San Diego suburb, a southern California suburb where this guy just never left town. This guy is full of potential but he was never able to leave. That's the drama side of it. On the occult side of it we wanted this mysterious neighbor, going on a blind date and the woman disappears and he goes on a search for this girl. So half of it mental illness and is it all in his head or is the cult responsible. Andy and I wrote a forty page thing but we weren't able to actually make it. He started a family in Florida and I joined the Army. Cut to four years later when I got out and I used the GI Bill to go to Mount Saint Mary and that program where I met Rich Handley (co-writer of THE BLACK STRING). I told him the story and he said instead of making a short graduate thesis, why don't we make a feature film and I loved the idea of THE BLACK STRING. One other person jumping in on a project made me realize we might have something here. It started with Rich Handley writing with me and from there we were fully committed to starting an LLC and added forty more pages to the script and it just grew from there. It all happened pretty quickly from there believe it or not.

JJ: We were also talking about how making these films there is a budget and you have to make due with the funding you have. Frankie was saying, and I agree with him after seeing the film, it doesn't look like a struggling budget.

BH: We were proud with what we were able to pull off. I worked at a production company while I was in school called Vega Baby and they did a small horror film and I got to see how they spent their money. I saw how a microbudget produced something like GURU so I really understood that when making a film on a lower budget you really have to use what is around you. An example is locations that you can't pay for and it's amazing because things like that are donated, friends' houses, our university, Mount Saint Mary's, played host to the mental institution scenes. There were a few locations where we got a student discount as part of our thesis project. The actors are all great actors that have that face, that presence on camera and then of course the cinematography - if we had to pay market value for everything, including Frankie and Oded Fehr (THE MUMMY and RESIDENT EVIL), it would never have happened. Everyone involved came in for a day rate or just contributed their gear or location, it was amazing. We had 10 to 20 years of favors and karma on this one, we cashed it all in.

JJ: You mentioned Frankie and Oded, first of all it freaked me out to see him on the screen. Getting Frankie is so fantastic, how did you make that happen?

BH: That is a great question because we never in a million years have dreamed when Andy and I were writing this as bartenders and Rich in film school would have thought Frankie Muniz would be part of this project. We went through a casting director, usually we do it ourselves but this time we knew we needed help. Jeremy Gordon, a casting director, gave us a lot of great people for all rolls. After two weeks of auditions we were about to cast the lead role of Jonathan and that day Jeremy called and said stop the presses and hear me out. He said he got a name that just came through and was interested in the script. Then he said the name Frankie Muniz and we had the same reaction you just did. We thought, 'What? Where has that guy been?'. I mean I knew he had been racing cars and such.

JJ: I know, he's been so busy with his music and the business with his partner as well.

BH: Yes, exactly. I mean way out of left field. We had really been searching for an actor to play Jonathan. We slammed on the brakes and brought Frankie in from Arizona to read and he auditioned and seeing him after only having the script for one day we had to see him again. He came in the second time and knocked it out of the park even more. We had to shift our thinking and Frankie brought a unique dynamic. I mean everyone grew up with him from Malcom in the Middle and what a difference. He is taken this really bizarre against type and it added so much to who Frankie is. This is like if Malcom didn't go off to college and stayed in town and his dad became a meth dealer - it's like Frankie's Breaking Bad.

JJ: My daughter Jenise knew I was speaking to Frankie and she was so thrilled because she loved him in Malcom in the Middle, after seeing THE BLACK STRING she can't believe how different this is for him. Of course I agree, it is disturbingly awesome.

BH: That's so awesome.

JJ: I don't know who else you could have chosen for Jonathan.

BH: Yes, it's his movie now. I make this sports analogy that if you are a coach and you have this athlete, you have to let them shine with what they are good at. We thought Jonathan would be more quiet but Frankie has this charisma and energy and we had to let that shine. He made Jonathan a much more dynamic character than we expected. Let's not forget the raw talent as an actor.

JJ: Another character that just held my attention was Homeless Mike.

BH: Yes

JJ: The whole time I was watching, the first time I saw his face in the window. Frankie and Homeless Mike could be related. That expression of terror for Homeless Mike and as Frankie's character develops gets that same look.

BH: I'm so glad you caught that. We really worked hard to match that and glad you noticed it.

JJ: It is an interesting arc because first of all who you cast as Homeless Mike was perfect. It wasn't about anything he said but his reaction to things. As the film went on I saw Jonathan's character mirror that. By the way, watching THE BLACK STRING in the dark? Yea. Where did the character of Homeless Mike come from?

BH: Again that the addiction and mental illness aspect of the film. There is this real sinister and evil occult force and Homeless Mike is a harbinger and a shadow of like Christmas Carol. This is where you might go and where you end up if you stay on the path. Jonathan is trying to be a better guy because he has these issues but Homeless Mike - is he really there or is he a figment of Jonathan's mind.

JJ: He isn't front and center and in your face, more subtle.

BH: In editing, we tried to cut out Homeless Mike but in the end we wanted to do what we wanted and went for it. It's a simple movie but we wanted to fill it with things to really think about. Maybe in future movies we might not be able to do that. Sievers is Homeless Mike and he had two or three scenes but he could have been on a poster. He encapsulates much of the movie with his face in the window.

JJ: Who's mind came up with the black string? Its horrifying!

BH: It's the body horror element, we wondered what could be worse. It's like 'should I go to the hospital'? It's like a nightmare and things we have experienced watching other films but it's really disgusting, insidious and revolting when something like that is in your body.

JJ: Yes, you guys didn't just stop at pulling it out - you went further and it freaked me out!

BH: I think there is something about being pierced that is very, very horrifying. When you brush up against a cactus you get those things stuck on your skin digging into you and its strange. If it was a cut its okay but something very sinister when things are sticking out of your body. We decided to take it to the max.

JJ: And you did because you get a sliver in your finger all you want to do is get it out. This makes a sliver look like nothing.

BH: Exactly, and with Jonathan there is addiction and mental illness and also this thing called Morgellons Syndrome. It's about people that believe they have parasites in their skin and the doctors tell them it's not there. People believe they have something implanted in them and they have to dig it out. It's a condition that goes a lot with addicts or mental illness with the idea there is something in you and you have to get it out.

JJ: I watched the string scene and its one of the big fears is knowing that one minute it's there and one minute it's not but even worse feeling like something bigger is coming and what could be bigger than what Jonathan is doing pulling the string.

BH: Right.

JJ: The ending is so shocking as well. He is trying to tell everyone through the whole film what is happening. Even his parents treat him like a kid and want to send him to his room. He keeps fighting and fighting and then have the ending happen.

BH: Again, that's a great observation and something we worked hard on. I won't reveal any spoilers but it’s the H.P. Lovecraftian kind of horror. It is a simple man or woman trying to fight forces that are so super naturally beyond them so how can they possibly fight against something like that.

JJ: Especially when you already have labels attached like Jonathan of being dissociative or mental problems. When he's arguing with his parent I just yelled at the screen, 'shut up and listen to what he is telling you!'

BH: Right. That was kind of a hint of what is happening to him. Using the words occult, curse, entity - the fact that you are even saying those words, no one in their right mind is going to believe you. That's the situation we wanted to explore like with the psychic, there is nobody that Jonathan can go to because it sounds so implausible that no one is going to believe anything he says. It's very frightening because there are people who experience things like that. There is a lot of homelessness on the streets and they often are shouting and screaming at the sky. It makes you wonder what is going on in their minds. In the case of our movie you have to wonder what if something is actually happening?

JJ: I was telling Frankie that in the movie ALWAYS there is a scene where Richard Dreyfus who is a 'ghost' is trying to tell a young pilot something. There is this homeless guy in the desert who repeats what he says and the pilot is freaked out. Dreyfus says something to the effect of who knows about these guys, maybe they have an antenna to something the rest of us don't hear or understand. I felt like that's how it was for Jonathan.

BH: Exactly!

JJ: We could go on for hours so I'm going to ask you the final question. What do you hope people take away from seeing THE BLACK STRING?

BH: Number one, talking about it, debating it with friends and family after they see the movie. Two people can see the film and have a very different opinion about the outcome. We wanted to stir conversation. We pitted hard science and medicine if you were doctors this supernatural world and this interdimensional occult forces. We wanted to slam those two opposing worlds together. The movie starts inspired by sleep paralysis which is horrifying experience. It makes you think other things in this world are out there but then science explains it. We really just wanted a character that was stuck right in the middle of that. Maybe a couple will chat about it and talk about other possibilities. Science can explain a lot but are there other explanations. Whether there are or there aren't it's fun to talk about, especially late at night. When I was in the Army I really learned that my Ranger buddies in Afghanistan were entertained by 90 minutes of a film. It was escapism and I hope that people have 90 minutes of going to a place that is thought provoking and enjoy it.

JJ: As a Mom of servicemen I want to thank you for your service. I was reading your bio and you have set the standard high in a lot of ways and I appreciate that about you. I appreciate all the service members involved in bringing this movie together. I hope you get a chance at the GI Film Festival to talk with the audience one on one to hear your perspective. I want to thank you for that.

It is always a joy to talk to the director of a film and it is even more of a joy to speak with a military Veteran who has served his country and then followed his dream. Making a film is a difficult and sometimes a lengthy process but Brian and everyone involved in THE BLACK STRING should be very proud of what they accomplished.

THE BLACK STRING is a psychological thriller filled with twists and turns. It is also a film that constantly causes us to join the ride with the character of Jonathan in the quest to discover what is real and what is something - else!

This Friday at MOPA in Balboa Park is the GI Film Festival San Diego's screening of THE BLACK STRING. Director Brian Hanson will be attending to answer all the questions that maybe I didn't get to ask because, and trust me on this one, there are so many more to be asked.


TAKE ME HOME HUEY Tells the Story of Healing

Jeri Jacquin

The opening film at MOPA in Balboa Park in San Diego this week at the GI Film Festival is a film produced by Art by Maloney (Executive Producer and Project Creator Steve Maloney) with direct/edit from Alicia Brauns and Christine to direct/edit the documentary TAKE ME HOME HUEY.

In 1969, a medivac helicopter known as Huey #174 was shot down in Binh Long province of Vietnam killing two crew members. In 2013, Dave Barron rescued the helicopter and artist Steve Maloney decides to make it a healing work of art. Beginning with restoring the weakened metal, people began coming in to be a part of the restoration. That led to the task of finding out about the crew that flew Huey #174 and what happened to them since the crash. 

Artist Steve Maloney literally came on board taking Huey #174 from damaged piece of metal to a way for those who survived the crash and the families of the two crew who died to help heal. Each of the crew came to see Huey #174 but it didn't happen easily. They had to consider what they went through as young men and what they are still going through to this very day. Each man admitting that they were struggling with PTSD.

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is defined as 'a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident or sexual assault'. Veterans from every war has brought home soldiers that had a difficult time fitting back into the lives they left behind. Not speaking about their experiences brought about drug use, alcoholism, inability to handle family life and so much more. 

As each of the men came to see their helicopter, the sense of panic slowly faded away watching their craft come to life in a unique way. Maloney covered the craft with imagery that the men clearly understood, and paid homage to the two crew that did not come home. Inside the helicopter in the installation of art Maloney created from the original parts from wires to instruments. Also inside is a time capsule installed that offered an opportunity for each to put in something in that brought their experience with their reimagined helicopter back in a way that brought them something indescribable. 

Karl Renz, Paul Battaglia, Jerry McNelly and Steve Maloney were on hand when the lights came on in the theater to a round of applause. Each person in the room was clearly moved by the story and thrilled to have the opportunity to hear directly from these men who have made a greater impact for veterans. To learn more about the film please visit www.takemehomehuey.org. 

The GI Film Festival San Diego opened with TAKE ME HOME HUEY laying the course for the rest of the films that will be showing until Sunday. Until Friday, the films will be at MOPA (Museum of Photographic Arts) in Balboa Park and for Saturday and Sunday the films will be at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center. 

For the schedule please visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org. 

Frankie Muniz Talks THE BLACK STRING

Jeri Jacquin

Screening at the GI Film Festival in San Diego this year on Friday, September 27th at the Museum of Photographic Arts and Made by Veteran/Military is the twisted mind thriller THE BLACK STRING.

Frankie Muniz stars as Jonathan, a young man trying to find his place in the world and after an encounter with a strange girl finds himself horrified by what begins happening to him. Trying to get others to believe what he says is true proves to be difficult and there is something terrifying close to him. THE BLACK STRING is a mind bending thriller that keeps the viewer wondering what is true and what is an illusion which means we are with Jonathan all the way. 

Muniz is best known for the family sitcom Malcom in the Middle and on the big screen with AGENT CODY BANKS. From the 90's well into the 2000's, Muniz was nominated and won awards for his work. Not resting on his Hollywood laurels, he has tried everything from music, to racing and a olive oil and vinegar business, participating in Dancing with the Stars (coming in third thank you very much!), co-hosting on Dancing with the Stars Juniors and so much more.

I had the opportunity to speak with Frankie about his role in the film THE BLACK STRING and found him to be exactly as I expected - charming and hoping his work pleases audiences.

Jeri Jacquin: Good morning Frankie, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.

Frankie Muniz: Of course.

JJ: I am thrilled that your film THE BLACK STRING is playing at the GI Film Festival.

FM: Yes, director Brian Hanson and producer Richard Handley are going to be there as well.

JJ: They are under the category of veterans that have made films. How did you get involved in the project?

FM: We filmed the movie three years ago and To be honest I was sent the script, and I loved it. It was so different and dark and a different character from anything that I've gotten to play before. I actually went into LA to audition for it and it was the first time I've done that in a very long time. I was passionate about the project and wanted to be part of it. I was thrilled that they chose me and had a great time filming it. I'm even more thrilled by how the movie turned out. We had a very, very small budget but you can't tell. When you see the film it looks big and they did a great job all around and I'm happy to be a part of that.

JJ: First of all this is a very twisted film in the sense that you never know which way it is going to go. You carry the film in that your character is always trying to figure out what is real which means we as the viewer wonder what is real.

FM: Yes, as an actor I just wanted to play it 100% real. Believe me if I was in that situation and I thought a cult was coming after me, this is how I would react. It can be difficult to tell that story especially when no one else believes you. We just really needed to figure out what level in the script that is crazy or maybe called passion. The crazier you seem the more passion you put in trying to fight for what you believe. You are trying to explain what is happening to everyone else. I never really have gotten to play a character like this in a dramatic way. I really, really loved it. I enjoyed playing this character and I'm proud of how it turned out. As an actor I usually don't care about myself but I have to say that I'm really, really happy with the job I did and I hope everyone sees it. I hope people will look at me different as an actor.

JJ: What you managed to do is take a character that everyone already had an opinion of before the scariness started and it set up the stage for everything else.

FM: Exactly, what I like about this character in the beginning is that there is the backstory of a young man trying to better his life. Maybe when he was younger he had problems and rough days with a past with psychological episodes but now he works hard. He's not at his dream job but he's showing up, doing a good job and trying to better himself. Everyone else kinds of sees the fact that one time in high school he had that episode. Seeing that and when you learn those things about why everyone is dismissing him and his claims of what happened - even the doctor is like 'it's not a big deal'. Everybody dismisses every aspect of what he is believing about what is going on. It is hard on the viewer because you just don't know.

JJ: This will make you happy then, I was yelling at the screen wanting everyone around him to just listen! Jonathan is very specific as to what happened and his parents are like 'go to your room'. 

FM: Imagine how hard that is for someone that truly, truly believes something and nobody believes him. It would make you go crazy. He really believed what happened and wants to fight for it. He wanted to find the answers no matter what it took, even if he had to run around town in his socks! 

JJ: So, this is the one big question - what is your take on the character Homeless Mike?

FM: When I think of the character Homeless Mike, when you see him in the beginning Jonathan is in the convenience store and he's just a crazy guy looking through the window. There is this view that when people see someone like that then he must be crazy. Jonathan becomes deep in the arc of almost becoming Homeless Mike himself. He is just one step away from it all. So you think maybe that's how Homeless Mike got there and maybe it’s a reflection of where Jonathan is headed. Maybe I'm just reaching but that is what I imagined when I saw the character in the film.

JJ: What I would add to that is that Mike knew something was coming when he was staring at Jonathan the first time in the window.

FM: That could be true. There were more scenes with Homeless Mike but they didn't make it into the film. I agree with that.

JJ: I reminded me of a scene in the movie ALWAYS where Richard Dreyfuss says that maybe homeless people are like antennas and they can tune into things we can't. That's what I thought of Homeless Mike. When Homeless Mike looks at Jonathan through the glass it's almost like he is trying to tell him something. 

FM: Oh yes, absolutely, I can see that. 

JJ: Jonathan almost had the same look as the film goes on.

FM: There is a scene where Jonathan sees Dena in the house and runs to Eric at the convenience store and up against the glass. A moment shared between me and Homeless Mike.

JJ: You are right about the look of the film, the special effects are so well done. Added to that is I couldn't stop watching how you were handling things. I also don't think I'll look at black string the same way every again. The effects are amazing.

FM: We had this special effects crew that was amazing. The resources that were used for the budget are surprising but that says a lot about Brian and the producers. I am so thrilled how it all turned out. It's amazing when you can look at a project you've done and say 'man, we worked hard'. I am thrilled with it and I hope people enjoy it to.

JJ: I watched the film at night which made it even creepier!

FM: It will do that absolutely.

JJ: I believe you carried this movie so well Frankie and you did a wonderful job. I appreciate all you did and all Brian did to bring THE BLACK STRING to the screen.

FM: I appreciate that so much Jeri thank you.



Prepare yourselves for a mind bending tale of illusion and reality with THE BLACK STRING starring Frankie Muniz. 
The writer/director Brian Hanson served in the US Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed several times to Afghanistan. He volunteers with Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME) and grew up in Escondido studying film at Palomar College and SDSU.

Producer Richard Handley is also familiar with San Diego as he began his medical career stationed on the USS Constellation at a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He earned an MFA in Film from Mount St. Mary's University and a Graduate Certificate in Producing from UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. 

The GI Film Festival is returning to San Diego for another opportunity to show some of the most amazing films, documentary's and shorts created and performed for our military. For further information on purchasing tickets and scheduling please visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org. 

THE BLACK STRING is also coming to DVD from Lionsgate who is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com. 

In the end - paranoid cuts deep!

THE BLACK STRING is a Trip of the Mind

Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD and screening at the GI Film Festival San Diego from director Brian Hanson and Lionsgate is a story of twists and bends and a trail of THE BLACK STRING.

Jonathan (Frankie Muniz) is a lonely young man who works in a convenience store. He is avoiding his parents and often takes advice from friend Eric (Blake Webb) on how to get out into the world. One night at home he sees a commercial for companionship and is drawn to call. The next night he has a blind date with Dena (Chelsea Edmundson) who rushes Jonathan into spending the night.

The next morning Dena is gone but leaves behind a mysterious rash and Jonathan is instantly freaked out. If that isn't enough, he starts experiencing strange disturbances that turn into actions he knows are caused by whatever is eating at him. Looking for answers, Eric and his parents decide he is detached from reality and so the fight begins to prove what he knows is true with the forces that are pushing everyone away.

Turning to a woman named Melinda (Mary K. DeVault) for help, she tries to guide him before turning back is no longer an option. Explaining that she knows exactly what he is going through, the process is painful, terrorizing and one that begs the question of who is responsible and how can they be stopped!

Muniz as Jonathan is a young man who clearly is not the popular guy in town. Rather shy he is often mistook for someone who can be pushed around and easily manipulated. He lets things go, that is until pushed to his limits trying to survive something he doesn't understand. Muniz makes that performance terrifyingly believable and that's important because this story is deliberate in the telling leaving each encounter even creepier than the last.

Webb as Eric is the outgoing, a little nutty and colorful friend to Jonathan, that is until he sees something happening to his friend that he can't handle. DeVault as Melinda tries to help Jonathan as much as she can without getting herself back into a place that obviously terrifies her.

Shout out to Alexander Ward as The Entity because anything that does what his, well, entity does is just a tad creepier than I need. It is a creature that I think we've all dreamt about in our scary dreams and here it is in the flesh so to speak.

Other cast include Richard Handley as Dr. Ronaldi, Colby French as Mr. Marsh, Laura Richardson as Mrs. March, Ravi Patel as Dr. May, Jackie Moore as Lollypop, Jenny Strubin as Winter Gary Sievers as Homeless Mike, and Cullen Douglas as the Man in Black.

Lionsgate is a global leader in motion picture production and distribution for theatres, television, home entertainment and more. Theatre franchises include THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT along with JOHN WICK. Now, adding this film to its 16,000 motion picture and television titles you can see everything coming soon as well as available now at http://www.lionsgate.com. 

The DVD and Digital Special Features include Audio Commentary with Director and Cowriter Brian Hanson and Producer Charles Bunce, String Theory: The Making of THE BLACK STRING Featurette, Deleted Scenes and Alternate Takes.  

THE BLACK STRING was the Official Selection at the Austin Film Festival in 2018 and will be a feature film presented at the GI Film Festival in San Diego in late September. If you want to enjoy a fright on the big screen visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org to purchase tickets and view the scheduled time. 

Muniz gives a performance that adds to the films deeply disturbing story. Trying to make his way in the world with parents who don't see his potential, it doesn't help when he takes a step forward to try and date. Although I personally wouldn't call a hotline for that, the character of Jonathan would and it's believable. 

The creepiness of the film is watching Muniz character try and discover what is true and what isn't because, at times, I wasn't sure myself. When he is told that the answers are right in front of him, I went on the hunt for clues right along with the character. That's always a fun way to keep the scary in check.

Of playing the role, Muniz says, "It's amazing when you can look at a project you've done and say 'man, we worked hard'. I am thrilled with it and I hope people enjoy it to."

In the end - paranoia cuts deep!

GI Film Festival Coming to San Diego


Jeri Jacquin

The GI Film Festival is returning to San Diego for another opportunity to show some of the most amazing films, documentary's and shorts created and performed for our military. This year the festival begins on Tuesday, September 24th with an Opening Night at the Theatre of Photographic Art and a showing of TAKE ME HOME HUEY. 

TAKE ME HOME HUEY documents contemporary artist Steve Maloney’s transformation of a wounded warbird, into a colorful sculpture. As the battered helicopter becomes whole, stories of Vietnam veterans and their families parallel the healing journey of Huey #174, and viewers begin to understand what veterans must face finding relief from trauma sustained during the war. 

Following the opening film is a reception to discuss the film with a panel in the museum’s David C. Copley Atrium. There is so much more at the G.I. Film Festival continuing on Wednesday, September 25th at the Museum of Photographic Arts with the 5:15 showing of the film MOSUL.
 The film tells the 2014 story of a city that is overrun by ISIS fighters. By 2016 Iraqi soldiers and others fight to liberate Mosul. Iraqi journalist Ali Mula goes along to discover the stories and asks the question 'is the fight with ISIS over?'.

The second film of the evening is HOMEMADE, a film that follows Marine Adam Sorensen and his life after the war. This is an emotional film of readjustment to life and the transition of military to civilian life. Six years of filming from being wounded in combat to what can only be described as traumatic transition, I think we all know someone who can relate to this journey.

On Thursday, September 26th at the Museum of Photographic Arts, the film THE WHISTLEBLOWER screens. Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson saw what happened on March 16th, 1968 and the incident in the My Lai village in Vietnam during the war. Unable to stop what killing around him, Thompson reports the massacre to military high command that brought about a trial for the ages. The film also sees the after affects through the lives of others to teach a generation about war.

Following the film WHISTLEBLOWER is the Drama Block: The Intense Stories of Service with shorts including That's Mine, Escape by Sea, Breaking Point, A Soldier's Way, Reddog, and Entrenched.

Friday, September 27 at the Museum of Photographic Art is the Drama Block: Not Your Everyday Story with #3 Normandy Lane, A Rodeo Film, The Man I Want to Be, Last Taxi Dance, Polka, The Real Thing, This One Step, and Deviant. Each of these shorts is either made by or stars military or veterans. Following the screening there are discussions with the filmmakers and the actors which is a fantastic way to learn more about each of these pieces.

Following the shorts is the film twisted thriller THE BLACK STRING, starring Frankie Munoz. The writer/director Brian Hanson served in the US Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed several times to Afghanistan. He volunteers with Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME) and grew up in Escondido studying film at Palomar College and SDSU.

Producer Richard Handley is also familiar with San Diego as he began his medical career stationed on the USS Constellation at a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He earned an MFA in Film from Mount St. Mary's University and a Graduate Certificate in Producing from UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. 

Saturday, September 28th is a full day of film at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center in Mission Valley. Starting with the documentary SUNKEN ROADS: Three Generations After D-Day. This is the story of those who were there on June 6th and their return to Normandy. This documentary will squeeze your heart and open your mind.

Next is the documentary DONUT DOLLIES about the Red Cross Donut Dollies who were brought in to help the troops but truly had no idea what they were getting into. Forty-seven years later these women come together to share their stories and talk about the memories they kept to themselves.

The next documentary is ISLAND SOLDIER that introduces a story that I had only hear faint stories of but now know so much more. It is the story of Microneasians who joined the US military and were sent to Afghanistan. This story tells the effects to the people and island they leave behind.

Later in the evening is the Awards Celebration at the Parq Event Center. It is an opportunity to recognize those who have shown excellence in filmmaking. The event will be hosted by Navy Officer Jamie Kaler. 

The final day of screening, Sunday, September 29, begins with Doc Block: True Stories of Survival and Heroism at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center in Mission Valley. Beginning with 
Team River Runner - Beyond Padding, Ocean Station November, The Invalid Corps, XVII Carvings, Under the Needle and Finding Satan. 

Next is the Vietnam Black of shorts with Vietnam Aftermath, Others May Live: American Patriot, and Remains: The Search for SFC Samuel J. Padgett. These are documentaries about Vietnam and the Veterans who served. There is a panel discussion with filmmakers and actors to follow.

Finally, SCRAMBLE THE SEAWOLVES is a documentary about the US Navy's first and only Attack Helicopter Gunship Squadron. Started in 1967, it has only taken fifty years for their story to finally be told. 

This is an amazing schedule of films, documentary's and shorts as only the G.I. Film Festival can bring to San Diego. The GI Film Festival San Diego 'aims to reveal the struggles, triumphs and experiences of service members and veterans through compelling and authentic storytelling. '

Partnering with KPBS, the GI Film Festival has continued to bring such amazing pieces that bright about thought provoking discussion and so much emotion. Each day brings a new aspect of history through filmmaking for everyone to learn what may not be in the history books about war but also hearing from those who experiences it.

Although I highly recommend this festival to family's who have service members but also everyone else as well. It is such an education in so many ways in the stories that are told about war but how our society in recent years has had to reach out more and more. We can no longer let our military return from war and veterans suffer in silence with their experiences. 

Attending the GI Film Festival San Diego is amazingly easy, please visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org to see the listing of screening times and purchase tickets. There is also an All Access pass that allows you into the screenings and events which is the best way to spend the week!

The GI Film Festival San Diego represents the best and brightest is filmmaking telling the stories that we all need to not only see but experience.
San Diego International Film Festival Opens This Week

Jeri Jacquin

This year's San Diego International Film Festival begins October 15 and ends the 20th managing to pack the schedule with some amazing films, shorts, animation and documentaries. That is what the SDIFF does, bring the filmmakers to show their best with every range of human emotion in every frame.

Opening night begins with the film JOJO RABBIT showing at the beautiful Balboa Theatre downtown. That is followed by a gathering at the to speak with filmmakers, industry and perhaps a celebrity or two. It’s a beautiful way to the start the festival and the weather is usually pretty nice to be able to walk downtown after.

The second day starts with the film SAFE INSIDE which is the story of Ana and Tom traveling across France. Hired to work at an estate in the countryside, secrets are revealed! It is followed by Twisted Humor and Tribes on the Edge. The evening film is Makoto Mioya's film IMMORTAL HERO and the last film of the evening THE TRUTH.

Day Three brings a story of a small town who is on the verge of panic when a chemical plant has the potential to interfere with the residents love life with LOVE IN KILNERRY. The next film about a look at the last week of school, friendship and PHILOPHOBIA. Next is a look at Animation Filmmaking with a question & answer session to follow the screening. BELLINGCAT - Truth in a Post-Truth World is a look at what is called 'citizen investigative journalists'.

The riveting documentary that looks at women and poaching is BREAKING THEIR SILENCE: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War. Decisive Moments is a look at what is going on in the minds of everyday people.

The film DOING MONEY is a look at sex slaves and trafficking with District Attorney Summer Stephans and City Attorney Maura Elliot will be participating in a question and answer session following the film. 100 DAYS TO LIVE brings a serial killer and the race to stop him.

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is the story about a painter in the 18th century who must pain the portrait of a young woman getting married. INSIDE GAME is the real life story of Tommy Martino who came up with a plan, along with his friends, to make money betting on the NBA.

The Opening Night film at ArcLight Cinemas is the Premiere and Afterparty for THE IRISHMAN. Director Martin Scorsese is back with a blockbuster film starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (who we are happy to see together again!).

Day Four brings Waiting for Mamu, a documentary about CNN Hero of the Year Pushpa Basnet who helps the children of Nepal. The PANEL - Streaming Services 2020 discusses what lies ahead for digital plaforms. HAWAII is the story of a family in communist Romania and a family member that had always been thought dead.

San Diego Scene discuss local filmmakers and its followed by THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE with a story of a champion musher racing to deliver medicine in Alaska that will save lives. BABYSPLITTERS has a couple disagreeing on whether to have a baby and how to solve their stalemate. Global Consciousness brings films that discuss problems and how to handle bringing about solutions.

We Rise Up takes on the continual question of 'What is Success?' followed by a question and answer session. Twisted Humor is always a personal favorite because I can almost guarantee the funny will be twisted and I certainly can't get enough of that!

SHE IS THE OCEAN is a story of two women who share a love for the ocean and it gives them the power to make their dreams comes true. Strangers in a Strange Land always tests the limits of filmmakers imaginations and they never disappoint with their creative visions up on the big screen.

CLEMENCY is the story of a prison warden who has spent years handling death row executions.
Alfre Woodward stars as Warden Williams, a woman who comes face to face with the issues of her job and a connecting with an inmate she is ordered to execute.

THE TRUTH is a mother and daughter dealing with their personal issues while Mom is working on a sci-fi film When World Collide are films that bring out the best out of the most unexpected people or situations. THE KILL TEAM is the story of a soldier in Afghanistan who witnesses the killing of innocents and must navigate his way to telling the truth. BUCK RUN is a film about memories in rural Pennsylvania from director Nick Frangione. 

The evening also includes the NIGHT OF THE STARS TRIBUTE with Laurence Fishburne receiving the Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence, Pitbull receiving the Music Icon Award, Lindsay Wagner receiving the Humanitarian Award, Jared Harris receiving the Cinema Vanguard Award, Jillian Bell receiving the Fairbanks Award and Camila Morrone receiving the Rising Star Award. It is a night for celebrating and just knowing that Laurence Fishburne and Jared Harris are in the same room together gives me awesome chills!

Day Five brings a morning PANEL - Development Hell to learn more about the stages of getting an IP in the marketplace and the 48 Hour Film Project brings their creations. ANGELIQUE'S ISLE is the story of a woman who joins her husband to Lake Superior hunting for copper. MY BODY IS NOT A WEAPON bring several women together to learn from one another. Student Shorts highlights the work of student filmmakers from everywhere.

EVE is the story of a young girl who wants one specific role badly but when it goes to someone else, life begins to spiral for them both. The next panel of Unstoppable Women bring together a discussion of filmmaking and defying stereotypes in the entertainment industry.

(Un)clear Intentions asks the question 'is it real or it fake?'! ORDINARY LOVE is the love story of Joan and Tom and what it means to truly be devoted for better or worse. SAFE SPACES is the story of a professor dealing with events in his life and an ill grandmother added to the pile. The Condor and the Eagle bring four indigenous leaders from Canada to the Amazon jungle to bring meaning to climate justice.

SEA OF SHADOWS follows scientists who risk their lives to bring a crime syndicate to justice. A panel about Social Impact follows the film. INSIDE THE RAIN brings a college student and a stripper together in an effort to deal with a potential school expulsion. LIGHT FROM LIGHT brings Sheila to investigate a haunted farm in Tennessee meeting a man who believes his deceased wife is with him.

The following panel is Technology in Entertainment followed by the award winning Mongolian film THE STEED. Alluring & Enchanting bring pieces that are funny and full of surprises. CAROL OF THE BELLS has a young man looking for his biological mother who turns out to be disabled.

MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN has Edward Norton directing and staring in a film about the 1950s New York and Lionel, a P.I. with Tourette's Syndrome. Befriended by Frank Minna played by Bruce Willis, Lionel is looking into the murder of his friend and won't stop until he finds answers.

EXTRA ORDINARY is the story of Rose, a young girl with gifts that she tries to hide from. That is until she is put in a position where she can't hide much longer. PARASITE is writer/director Joon-ho Bong's film about a family trying to find their way with jobs being scarce. When Ki-woo poses as an English tutor, the mayhem beings!

The evening brings the Filmmaker Awards Show along with an afterparty. It is a celebration with awards for the films voted on by the audience. It's always fun to see if my list matches the winners.

The final day of the San Diego International Film Festival starts with Culinary Cinema at the Arclight as San Diego Chefs bring their enticing delicacies. It is always a fantastic time to mingle with fellow foodies to talk about the films seen so far at the festival.

TEMBLORES is a story of man coming to terms with who he is and the fallout in his family, the community and a society that just isn't ready. The Dead Soldier is the story of Jacob Panton who is mortally wounded in Afghanistan. In the operating room he is brought back and this is his story.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD is the story by Francois Ozon that tells of three men who refuse to remain silent about a priest's abuse. The Best Global Cinema Winner and Feature Winner will be announced at the Filmmaker Awards and shown on the final day. A HIDDEN LIFE is the story of Franz Jagerstatter who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II and the threat of execution for treason.

Finally, to end the San Diego International Film Festival of 2019 is MARRIAGE STORY. Staring Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta, the film is written and directed by Noah Baumback. It is the story of a marriage breaking up and still trying to keep a family together.

That's about it, that's everything that people can expect from the SDIFF this year and it is a full schedule so wear comfortable shoes! It is always a pleasure to be a part of the film festival as a moderator which I will be doing again this year for look for me while I ask questions and get you to ask even better questions.

For more on the SDIFF and to see the schedule or purchase tickets for films for the fantastic events and parties, please visit https://sdfilmfest.com/passes-and-tickets. Come be part of the scene!
Tragedy and Family in BUCK RUN 

Jeri Jacquin

From director Nick Frangione, Intuition Film and Tomorrowland Productions comes a story of a boy, a father and life when it comes to BUCK RUN.

Shaw (Nolan Lyons) lives in a small town with a very ill mother. One morning he discovers the worst thing a young man could, that his mother is gone. Not telling anyone for a day he tries to process but instead is sent by Officer Daniels (Jim Parrack) to live with his absentee father William (James Le Gros).

Since his parents separation, Shaw hasn't seen much of William who seems to spend more time at the swap meet or with friend John (Kevin J. O'Connor). The Shaw and his father don't seem to have too much to say to each other but the boy wants to know about the arrangements being made for his mother.

If that isn't enough to handle, Shaw has to deal with being the target of a very large bully who doesn't care one wit about any of his problems. Time and time again it is as if Shaw is handed insult to injury with no true adult to turn to. Maneuvering his emotions and the task of almost having to be the adult in the relationship with his father, Shaw begins to understand what takes most of us a lifetime to come to terms with.

Being a kid sometimes means accepting human frailty no matter how deep it goes.

Lyons as Shaw is absolutely stunning in this role. He is a young man clearly in the middle of adult problems and death starting the ball rolling. This young actor gives us everything we would expect and so very much more. Shaw is a complex character (just being a teen is the beginning) who is forced to navigate through the toxic environment created by those around him. It is amazing how quickly I wanted to embrace Shaw but found myself realizing that at his young age he does what we all tend to do, roll with the punches and accept.

Le Gros as William is a man with his own emotional issues and it becomes quickly clear that Shaw inherited those same qualities. Keeping things locked away and excusing it all when those feelings start to bubble to the top, William hides in the forest and shoots his problems away. Whether through heredity or the environment around him, Le Gros portrays a man who has learned that problems don't get put on Facebook and you suck it up and move on. What a lesson there is in these two characters.

Yoder as Kevin is trying to be a good friend to William but even that relationship hits a bump in the road when a truth surfaces. Yoder is an amazing actor to begin with so I expect everything I saw in this performance and applauded. Parrack as Officer Daniels tries, in his own way, to keep an eye on Shaw but as we see with the men in this film, it's easy to nod that all is well and not face the reality of what this boy is going through. 

Other cast include Amy Hargreaves as Karen, Alicia Goranson as Misty, Rod Luzzi as Alan Davis, Marcin Paluch as Mike, Roy Wilson as Dan, Aaron Marcus as Ned, Isaac Conner as Walt, Robert Frangione as Charlie and the ever amazing Angus Macfadyen as Angus Ford. 

BUCK RUN is about as emotional as a film can get but that emotion comes from the audiences' reaction to Shaw. The story is such that I wanted to scream at the screen for someone, anyone to have an emotional reaction to what is happening to the boy. There is where the film gets you, the intensity of hoping that someone up on the screen will save him. Remember how I spoke about acceptance? Well, you will find yourself accepting the result whether you like it or not.

The fact is that BUCK RUN has layer after layer of emotion but they are buried in the family history of the family. There is love but it is not open, there is compassion but its hidden by generations of 'suck it up' and there is concern but it's hidden under the leaves of a town stuck in its own beliefs and whoa be an outsider. 

Having come from a small town in Illinois, I found myself slowly beginning to understand the creatures of habit in BUCK RUN's town. There is a sense of things stuck in time and emotional traditions that people will hold on to until they are dust. There is no suggestion of hijacking emotions as being right or wrong - it just is.

I had the chance to interview director Frangione and discovered first of all that he has an amazing sense of humor which I appreciate. He also told an audience at the San Diego International Film Festival this past weekend that he came from a small town like the one in the film. He was drawn to the story because of its complexities and I can honestly say he captured them all in the film. I congratulated him on the cast because each one brought a uniqueness to the story. 

It is dark, it is tense and between the characters, the location and the cinematography, Frangione understood all of those elements to bring BUCK RUN to its conclusion. It may not be the one we want for Shaw but it is one that we will accept so what does that say about us?

In the end - a boy, his father and things that are never said. 
THE KILL TEAM 


Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres and On Demand from writer/director Dan Krauss and A24 are events of war and the effects caused by THE KILL TEAM.

Andrew Briggman (Nat Wolff) is a young man who joins the military and immediately send to the Middle East. Settling into camp, he tries to learn the ropes from the other soldiers. His first experience with the seriousness of their work is when their leader Weppler (Osy Ikhile) is killed. The group tries to come together as the new leader Sgt. Deeks (Alexander Skarsgard) walks in with confidence.

Deeks makes it very clear what he expects from the men under him and even treats them to a cookout. He also takes Briggman under his wing a little and encourages him to be more forward in his soldiering. The young soldier appreciates the attention and begins to find his way and becomes more inclusive with the platoon. 

Out on a mission, Briggman remembers what Weppler told him about 'hearts and minds' but Deeks doesn't agree with this approach. In fact, while out on patrol, he witnesses something that he knows is frighteningly wrong. Unsure of what to do, Briggman reaches out to his father William (Rob Morrow) who tells his son to stand fast using his military contacts to find help.

As word begins to spread that there could be a rat in the ranks, Briggman watches everyone including Deeks for signs of danger. The days become more difficult to handle as the others start weeding out who could be the person turning on them all. 

Every move brings him to a decision that will cost everyone!

Wolff as Briggman is a young man who comes from a military family and sees himself as doing his duty to country. Not as tough as some of the other soldiers he is with means if someone is going to be made to feel the outcast it is Briggman. Wolff brings a believable naivetés to his character that is shattered quickly and his reaction is fear. From beginning to the end of the film I felt with Briggman every step of the way (including feeling a big paranoid) and all of the emotions means Wolff delivers.

Skarsgard as Deeks is charming and disarming at the same time. Coming off as 'one of the guys' is perfect for a predator of his calibre. Of course I know Skarsgard can play a villain because I've seen him do it as a vampire in the HBO series True Blood, but this isn't the same by any means. In THE KILL TEAM, he uses war and the innocence of these young soldiers to fulfill his own nasty need for destruction. Despicable yes, well portrayed - absolutely.

Morrow as William Briggman is a father who just wants his son to come home alive without physical harm or emotional scars. When his son reaches out, Dad does what dad's do, try to fix a problem before it becomes bigger than a problem. 

Other cast include Anna Francolini as Laura, Oliver Ritchie as Cappy, Brian Marc as Marquez, Jonathan Whitesell as Coombs, Adam Long as Rayburn and Ian Attard as Captain Weaver.

THE KILL TEAM is a difficult film because the idea presented is one that people have thought about but never talk openly about. War brings about actions that otherwise wouldn't be a part of a person's behaviors in everyday life. Not just in the recent wars but wars throughout history people have done things to one another that aren't spoken of in 'polite society'. 

Not so much in recent years as PTSD has become prevalent in our world and with that come the stories (and even photographs/video with our technology now) that show what the men/women of the armed services endure. The leader in this film, Deeks, is supposedly one of their own that is trusted to do his job and protect his soldiers is the disturbing part. Instead he is a man that betrays that trust and does the unthinkable. 

Briggman is a character but not so far removed from all the young soldiers who join the military. When the trust of a leader is betrayed, the fear is just another thing that can get one killed. Anyone in the military or family of those in the military will experience this film in a more difficult way because having a service member in the family is already difficult enough. The choices they make as soldiers is one most of us will never have to make and the film portrays that as well.

The entire film is on an emotional roller coaster for the viewer but at the same time will have the same viewer writing up a mental list of questions. That's where the conversations come into play that need to be had regarding the realities of war. Of course my father and grandfather came from a generation where what happened in war was never discussed but that is no longer the case and, in fact, they are now speaking out for their own mental health.

In the years to come this will not be the only time we hear and see a story of this kind as writer/director Krauss gives us a based on a true story, in-depth look at a few good men brought to many bad (and sad) behaviors. 

In the end - they are soldiers, brothers and enemies.