Like all independent films getting Light Wounds made is not an easy task and it is only because of the dedication of individuals like director Max Leonida, actors and co-producers Jonathan Looper and Vadim Dardagani, and executive producer Franco Sama that it is being made at all. Leonida, whose recent film premiered at Cannes, has a career spanning over two decades. When asked why he signed on to make this film he said, "I have dedicated the past year to Light Wounds because my mission has always been to work on meaningful projects like this." He added, "It is such an important and timely subject and people must understand that the first place in which schizophrenia can be concretely addressed is the family itself." They are fortunate that Tommy Flanagan best known for his work in Sons of Anarchy and Sin City, has attached to play the role of the father, and Terry Serpico who was in the hit show Army Wives for seven seasons, also believes in the project and has signed on as well.
It is an important film for many reasons. It is based on the true experiences of a brave American veteran, Dustin DeMoss, who was willing to share his story about mental illness which nearly destroyed him and his family. Dustin believes and rightly so that by telling his story he can help many others.
The film will take us on the journey of a young veteran returning from service on a humanitarian discharge to help care for his mother during her battle with ovarian cancer. Just as he is once again adjusting to civilian life with his family he experiences the onset of what he was to learn is schizophrenia. The film will follow his battle with the disease including his mental and emotional demise and the crisis that just about tears his family apart.
What makes this film so important and timely is brought home to us each day in the news. We hear about young boys shooting their classmates; a veteran killing innocent people working in the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard; and a Virginia legislator viciously attacked by his son. These stories all have one thing in common; a person with a mental illness that was either not diagnosed and/or not treated. They couldn't help themselves and their innocent victims and families are left to bury the dead and try to put back together the lives of the survivors. As a society we know we somehow failed them. First we ask how we could have known and then what we should have done about it.
We must do better and one way to bring this about is to tell stories like the one in Light Wounds in a way that people can grasp and understand. We can and must do something for those suffering with a mental illness and for their families. With help nearly all will go on to live productive lives. They can live and enjoy their families and friends and most importantly they can live with themselves. We need to remove the stigma from mental illness so that individuals and families will get the help they need.
The producers of Light Wounds are moving mountains to get this film to the screen. They are far along and have been reaching out to veterans groups and organizations dealing with mental illness to let them know about the film. They have recently created a partnership with "Treatment Before Tragedy" (Tb4t) a national mental health non-profit. The partnership will help create a social media network of support for this film. The organization's leadership includes mental health activists such as the co-founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Eleanor Owen, and internationally renowned journalist Asra Nomani, who believe we as a society can and must do something about this issue. The collaboration will also encourage the movie's fans to share what this film means to them through videos and stories that will be featured on the Tb4T website.
There are other groups such as the broader veteran and military communities who will find this film of value to their members. To spread the word about the movie the team recently spoke about the film at the Veterans in Film and Television meeting. Anyone who wants to know more about the movie and those involved in this important project can go to the Light Wounds website. There is a place on the website where you, a friend or family member can share your own story. We know, and you can let the world know, that there are many like Dustin DeMoss whose story this is, who are now moving forward with their lives and doing their part to make the world a little better for those who still need help to live their lives to the fullest.