DENVER — Your solitary reporter has just become better acquainted with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).
Earlier today, the solitary reporter watched all five nominees for the 87th Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Short Subject category at the Sie Film Center in Denver.
All five short documentaries — — two American, two Polish, and one Mexican — — are superb, but the solitary reporter’s pick to win is Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent.
This 40 minute film takes us to the VA’s only crisis hotline center, in upstate New York. We see the responders interact with their colleagues and their supervisors. We hear the responders speaking directly with veterans and family members where the veteran is experiencing serious suicidal thoughts as a result of PTSD.
As Sen. McCain viewed the film, he nudged the solitary reporter repeatedly, saying “SR, when I was being tortured in the Hanoi Hilton, and in solitary confinement for two years, there was nobody from the VA or from anywhere in America that I could talk with.”
“I tried once to commit suicide, but was stopped by a guard, and I actively resisted the camp authorities.”
“And I learned that everybody has their limit, and I reached mine, and was forced into making a fake confession."
“These days, roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day, or one every 65 minutes.”
“I respect President Obama, and the difficult decisions which he has to make every day as Commander-In-Chief; but he hasn’t been there.”
Moved and subdued, the solitary reporter, who campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008, did not query the Senator about his frequent criticisms of President Obama for announcing the so-called end of American military involvement in Afghanistan.
The others, all magnificent films, are:
Joanna – directed by Polish director Aneta Kopacz, is a luminous portrayal of a woman dying from cancer, who spends her last months with her husband and young son, savoring every moment.
The Reaper (La Parka) — directed by Gabriel Serra Arguello, takes us to a dangerous and unsanitary Mexican slaughterhouse. There, we see Efrain, also known as the Reaper, discover his deep relationship with the dead.
Our Curse — by Tomasz Śliwiński and Maciej Ślesick, is a heartrending account of a young Polish couple’s struggle taking care of their infant son Leo, who has a life-threatening pulmonary condition.
White Earth — by J. Christian Jensen — is about what it’s like to have fathers working in the Western North Dakota oil patch.