It is a rare thing for a film to be both intellectually satisfying and emotionally resonant, but such is the case with writer/director Stacey Stone's 37-minute doc short Forever Under Siege, a film that delves deeply within the lives of people affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic combat experiences.
Based upon a previous film directed by Stone and producer Diane Mellen, My Own War, the film has been re-written, re-edited and now includes the familiar face of Ed Asner within the film's cast of veterans who've lived their lives dealing with the impact of their traumatic war experiences.
The structure of Forever Under Siege feels like a heartbeat, the stories that Stone chooses to tell weaving themselves in different directions yet never losing direction and coming together to make the entire film feel both incredibly complex yet also remarkably simple.
It's a rather remarkable accomplishment that Stone manages to infuse Forever Under Siege with so much credible information while never let us forget that there are lives that matter at the center of all the information. She refuses to allow us, the viewers of this story, to sit by comfortably. Without exploiting the material, Stone creates a film that takes us into uncomfortable places, not as sole travelers but as companions to the men and women who live with these traumas every single day of their lives.
Many of the regular readers of The Independent Critic, especially those from my home city of Indianapolis, will be familiar with Stone and Mellen's work from their film The Man Behind 55,000 Dresses. Much as they did with that film, Stone and Mellen take deep, complicated subject matter and breathe life into it through their interviews, material presentation and filmmaking techniques.
Forever Under Siege may, perhaps, be a little more triggering for those with PTSD, myself included, than was My Own War. On some indescribable, almost intangible, level this is a film that resonates more emotionally and has more electrifying sparks despite being about 16 minutes shorter than My Own War.
For more information on Forever Under Siege, visit the film's website linked to in the credits. If you get a chance to see it on the festival circuit, make an effort to do so.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic