Last Wednesday, the HBO Theater near Bryant Park held a private screening of the documentary “We Are Not Done Yet.”
Produced by actor Jeffrey Wright and director David Holbrooke, the film chronicles ten U.S. veterans as they cope with their past military traumas including PTSD and sexual abuse and how they use poetry as an empowering tool of self-expression and healing. The documentary concludes with the veterans’ performance at the Washington, D.C.’s Lansburgh Theater under the direction of Jeffrey Wright and directed by Sareen Hairabedian, which evolved from writing workshops led by poet Seema Reza. Jeffrey Wright became involved in the project after working with Theater of War to direct the veterans in the stage production of their collaborative poems. We Are Not Done Yet aired on HBO Thursday, November 8th.
Check our exclusive coverage of the Q & A post-screening:
Jeffrey Wright: I try to let this film speak for itself. It’s been a privilege to work with these folks and I say this repeatedly as I talk about the film, I think the most impactful thing on me and surprising to some extent because I was ignorant of this, despite the obvious betrayal that they have experienced, their deep commitment and respect for the idea of service, the intuition they did it for despite the betrayal, born of that is this idea there’s a need for my own personal healing but even more so there’s a need for me to reach out and touch others within the room in which they worked and now through this film there’s a greater opportunity to do that. I think that there so many authentic voices that we hear now but those voices are authentic in their dishonesty. Authentic in their aspiring chaos and confusion, ignorance, misinformation. We are in a vulgar time in terms of the voices that reach our ears now. I think we reached a period which it’s time for voices that are authentic in what they represent relative to truth and fact because these are not subjective things. This is objective ideas and so I am very pleased that these voices have a framework to which to be expressed and received.
Joe Merritt, veteran: Thank you so much for having us and it’s been such a journey. A year and a half ago when we sat down we had no idea it would get to this place, I’m blown away by it still and blown away, even more, knowing the fact that we didn’t have to sit down and plan for two years for this to happen. People heard our stories and they started pushing in the right direction. We were like we just want to tell stories and paint pictures and they were you’re going on HBO suck it up. One of the most wonderful and beneficial things that has happened so far with the bit of exposure is when people approach us after the screening and say “I just wanted to tell you my life has nothing to do with the military or your story but because you told your story I can tell my story and I am going to be a better person and that is really all I could hope for.