With heartbreaking stories of U.S. veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently making the news, The Dry Land—a new film by first-time feature writer/director Ryan Piers Williams—is a fictional story that gains new real-life resonance with each emerging headline. The film, which had its Idaho premiere last night at the Flicks, is the story of a returning soldier who struggles with the adjustment to civilian life following an attack that left him with stress-induced amnesia.
In attendance at last night's screening was the film's Boise-based producer Heather Rae, actress America Ferrera, who also served as executive producer, and Williams, who wrote the film after hearing stories about PTSD sufferers.
"About five years ago, I started reading newspaper articles about men and women coming back from the war and their experience when they came home,” Williams said. “There were several stories that really struck me which spoke about soldiers dealing with issues like PTSD and the hardships they faced, not only them but also their families.”
Ferrera, who plays the wife of the returning vet, says The Dry Land examines the underrepresented story of the stress placed on the family and friends of an afflicted soldier.
“How do you support the ones who are home trying to keep it together?” she asked. “No one’s even begun to talk about stress-disorders in military families ... this is one branch of a tree of conversations.”
After the film, the three filmmakers were joined by Boise VA Medical Center psychologists Drs. Dudley Blake and Beth Fassig to discuss the film and conflict-induced PTSD with the audience, many of whom were veterans or from military families. Fifty percent of the events tickets were made available at no cost to military personnel. The Dry Land is being toured at military bases around the United States leading up to its theatrical release in July, and a USO tour is currently being organized.