PETERBOROUGH — For thousands of servicemen and women, coping with the aftermath of war is a daily battle.
In honor of Veterans Day, the Monadnock International Film Festival presents “Not Yet Begun To Fight,” a documentary about the struggles of veterans on their journey from war to peace, on Tuesday at the Peterborough Community Theatre.
The film, released in 2012, centers on Warriors and Quiet Waters, a nonprofit organization that brings veterans to Bozeman, Mont., to learn how to fly fish. It was produced and co-directed by Sabrina Lee, a filmmaker who now lives in Keene.
Lee and her co-director, Shasta Grenier, first learned of the organization at a community event while Lee was living in Montana. They were struck by the unseen battles of American veterans, both in combat and after returning home.
It was a film they felt needed to be made, she said.
“It’s probably impossible to fathom what the experience of an injured vet is unless you have somebody in your circle of friends or your immediate family,” Lee said. “Yet, these are the people who have volunteered to be a part of our military, have put everything on the line, and we have a moral obligation to care for them when they return.”
The film follows five veterans injured in combat — both physically and psychologically — as they learn to fly fish with Warriors and Quiet Waters. They speak about their struggles in recovery, from re-learning how to walk and communicate after severe injury to the battle of living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the film, Marine Col. Eric Hastings, who co-founded the organization, describes fly fishing as “a constantly repeating series of occasions of hope.” Part of its therapeutic quality is the act of preserving life when releasing each fish that is caught, he says in the documentary.
“Fly fishing is somewhat unique, and this is revealed in the film, because fly fishing in Montana is catch and release. So you have these servicemen, who have been trained to kill, who are being asked to gently remove the hook from the fish’s mouth and lay it back in the water to preserve its life,” Lee said, “which in some ways runs counter to their military training.”
The documentary won prizes at several film festivals, and was designated a “Top Pick for Television” by The New York Times when it was broadcast on PBS.
She says she sees documentary film as a way to illuminate the unknown. When the film was in production, Lee made a commitment to herself and to her executive producers to publicly screen the documentary each Veterans Day, with the goal of helping audiences understand the challenges today’s veterans face.
“I think that — it is my hope at least — that this film will provide a lens into what their experience is coming home, confronting their injuries, having to re-enter society typically as a civilian because perhaps they’re too injured to pursue a career with the military,” she said.
After the screening, Lee will hold a question-and-answer session with the audience to discuss the making of the film. She noted that veterans and their families will receive free admission, and veterans and other audience members are encouraged to comment on the film or their own experiences during the question-and-answer session.
More programs like Warriors and Quiet Waters are needed, she said.
“I feel like the call to action in this film is for people to create more of these programs. It doesn’t have to be fly fishing; it can be horseback riding, it can be hiking, it can be canoeing,” Lee said. “There’s so many different outlets to nature that would serve the same purpose and provide the possibility of healing.”
“Not Yet Begun To Fight” will be shown Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Peterborough Community Theatre. Tickets are $5 for MONIFF members, $10 for non-members and free for veterans and their families. To learn more about the film, visit http://www.notyetbeguntofightfilm.com/.
Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @MMcIntyreKS.