By Ms. Julie Lucas (IMCOM)July 8, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Mountain Post members were given the Hollywood treatment with an opportunity to watch an unreleased film and have a question-and-answer session with the director/writer and several stars of the film.
Fort Carson was chosen as the site for a private screening of the movie, "The Dry Land," July 1 at McMahon Auditorium. Soldiers were encouraged to bring their spouses to the event.
The film was brought to Carson after a local director of a theological seminary viewed the film and knew this would be the place for it to be screened. Garrison Commander Col. Robert F. McLaughlin; along with the Installation Chaplain's Office; the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and the Army Substance Abuse Program office supported the effort.
Ryan Piers Williams, the film's director and writer, said that it was nearly five years ago when he was reading a story about a Soldier returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder and it sparked an idea within him to make a movie about it.
"I hadn't heard about PTSD before and was blown away this was happening," Williams said. "It turned my head upside down and I spent the next two years researching and trying to understand the situation for returning Soldiers."
The director also said that what struck a chord with him was the fact that he was the same age as many Soldiers. The point of the movie for Williams is to spark a conversation with a universal story.
"I think (PTSD) is an issue that doesn't just pertain to this war," he said.
In the film, a Soldier returns from Iraq and has to deal with reintegrating back to life in a small town in Texas. The Soldier's wife is played by "Ugly Betty" star, America Ferrera, who also is an executive producer for the film. In an effort to recall experiences, the main character, James, travels to visit a fellow Soldier, played by "That 70's Show" star, Wilmer Valderrama, and then on to visit another battle buddy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, D.C.
"I've met hundreds of Soldiers and they all deal with this situation differently," said Valderrama.
Ferrera, Valderrama and Ryan O'Nan, who plays James, answered questions from the audience and event stayed after to sign autographs and pose for photos.
Many Soldiers in attendance agreed that they could identify with certain parts of the film
"You nailed it," said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Dugan, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to the actors and director. "For those who haven't gone through similar experiences as myself or the character James in the movie, thank God for that. I'm excited for the opportunity for this film to get out to the public."
Lt. Col. Erin Wilkinson, Evans Army Community Hospital, was onstage to answer questions and give input about how the scenes of the film reflect the reintegration process after deployment.
"The theme from the movie is isolation of the spouse," Wilkinson said. "When your life has been removed for a year you feel very fragmented and that doesn't mean you are suffering from PTSD. Every Soldier, no matter what they've done, they've been removed from their daily lifestyle. When you come back, everything is fragmented."
"This movie gets to the heart of the matter," said Maj. John Goodwin, operations officer, Warrior Transition Battalion.
"The Dry Land" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was screened by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and went on a USO tour for deployed Soldiers. Fort Carson is the first military installation at which the film was shown.
The movie is set to be released to the public July 30.