"Not Yet Begun to Fight," an unconventional look at the impact of war and the journey to recovery, will air in Chicago on WTTW on Jan. 24 at 10 p.m.
"Not Yet Begun to Fight" has received high critical praise, including 3.5/4 stars and "Two Thumbs Up" from the Chicago Sun-Times, and also was selected by Roger Ebert to be one of 12 feature films shown at his annual film festival, Ebertfest, shortly before his untimely death in April of this year.
Lake Bluff resident Steve Platcow, CEO of RPM Advertising in Chicago, is the producer of the film. He has found the subject matter to be a labor of love as it has a connection to his own personal story. His grandfather was a veteran of World War I and suffered from what is now diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The film has sold out numerous screenings across the country and won a variety of festival awards, among them the Moving Mountains Prize at Telluride Mountainfilm, the Audience Award for Best Documentary at both the San Diego Film Festival and Florida Film Festival, as well as the Big Sky Award at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.
The film focuses on five warriors who join retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings for a week of fly-fishing in Montana. Hastings, who flew missions "high above the death and destruction" in Vietnam, returned home to Montana in 1969 battling dark dreams. His solace was fishing: "When I came back from combat, I found I needed relief. And the more I went fly-fishing, the more I knew I needed more of it. It became an absolute desperate physical and mental need. And I had to do it, or I was going to kill someone."
Directors Sabrina Lee and Shasta Grenier shadow Colonel Hastings as he reaches out to a new generation of traumatized combat veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He leads five remarkable, intense, and vulnerable young men (three marines, a soldier and a Navy SEAL) to the quiet waters of Montana. His mission is to help them find their way through the space between the war they have just left behind and the new battles they face. According to Elliott Miller, a Navy SEAL who lost the ability to speak and now communicates with the automated voice of an iPad, "The hardest thing, and this probably goes for just about any wounded warrior out there, is having to learn every little thing all over again. Only this time, where you were once an able, barrel-chested freedom fighter and proud, now you are broken and weak and humble. And so it just adds a whole new level of difficulty to it."
Hastings knows too well that the war is never over for those who fight. On the rivers of Montana, with a fly rod in hand, he shares the balm that soothed his wounds, "Fly-fishing is a series of opportunities for hope," he says. "This river healed me."
To learn more about the film, its filmmakers and to watch a short trailer, visit the website at www.notyetbeguntofightfilm.com.