EXCLUSIVE: Here. Is. Better., Emmy Award-Winning Director Jack Youngelson’s documentary about the rising mental health crisis in America though its examination of veterans’ experiences with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), has completed production.
Here. Is. Better follows veterans overcoming the debilitating effects of PTSD with treatments that could bring hope to the millions that continue to struggle. The film features the prominent politician, veteran and podcast host (Majority 54) Jason Kander, sharing his journey through treatment for the first time.
The docu is produced by Emmy Award-Winning producer Sian Edwards-Beal, producer David Beal, with executive producer William F. Brandt, Jr., Co-EP Andrew Craissati and Co-Producer Chloe Hall.
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David Koh is selling Here. Is. Better. worldwide at Cannes. The film will be a part of a larger initiative geared towards helping those who struggle with PTSD, to be launched later this year.
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Below is the just released trailer; note some of the material can be harrowing:
In addition to Kander’s experience, the film documents Dr. Kathleen Chard and her women veterans’ treatment group at the PTSD and Anxiety Disorders Division at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center where she serves as Director. Her group provides insight into one course of treatment currently provided by the VA that can help veterans in their quest for recovery.
“All of the veterans featured in the documentary put tremendous trust in us to share their stories in order to help others,” says Youngelson. “It is one of the great gifts of making this film, and I am honored that these remarkable men and women put their faith in us to get their stories out in the world.”
The docu explores how roughly 60% of men and 50% of women experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. Such experiences can include sexual abuse or assault, accidents, the effects of combat, and now the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While veterans can be more likely to experience PTSD than the general population, an estimated 7%-8% of Americans are affected by PTSD in their lifetime. Recently, researchers found high rates of PTSD among COVID-19 survivors and frontline healthcare providers.
Says Kander, “Film is an incredibly powerful medium, one that I’m counting on to convey a message that’s very personal to me. I hope that this film can be a catalyst for change–opening people up to the power of treatment; showing them that mental health issues are surmountable; and that life is worth living.”
The film’s score is composed by Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers and David Baron.
Says Fraites, “When asked to help score this film I honestly didn’t know much about PTSD and how it affected people. I heard stories, but it always seemed like a subject much swept under the rug. After watching this film and wiping the tears from my eyes, I felt so inspired to work on music and to try to add to this emotional ride called Here. Is. Better.”
The score features original songs written by Fraites, Kara DioGuardi (American Idol) and Josin.
The Cannes Film Festival runs until July 17.
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