Follow the five steps below to get the most out of your UnLonely Film Festival experience!
Step 1: Watch the film.
Bobby, an emotionally withdrawn veteran of the Middle East wars returns to his rural Pennsylvania hometown, where he struggles to reconnect with his hunting buddies and former sweetheart.
About the FIlmmaker
Natalia Kaniasty grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the small college town of Indiana, famous for being the birthplace of Jimmy Stewart. Raised by Polish emigrants, she enjoys exploring human themes that bridge the gap between different cultures, and in her case, the two places she calls home. She is a recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts Filmmaking program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Any other information of backstory you want to share about your film?
Home Range came from the desire to depict my hometown community located in the hills of Western Pennsylvania. I wanted to tell a story specific to that region but one with universal overtones. Small town communities of rural Western Pennsylvania have a strong tradition of service to the country. In recent years I myself have observed many men and women – my former classmates, friends, and neighbors – returning home after deployment. Today a lot of effort goes into helping our veterans, however psychological distress and hardship amongst them are at unacceptable levels. It was important for me to give our service men and women a voice.
Being in the military is a distinct experience that most civilians, though they have empathy for our troops, do not fully grasp. It is not easy to understand its complexities – the struggle, exhilaration, and deep ties formed within units. Often when returning home, veterans are faced with a sense of confusion, uncertainty, and displacement while trying to readjust to civilian life.
The protagonist of Home Range, Bobby, is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning home he questions where he belongs and to whom he belongs. Feeling disconnected from the people he loves, and who love him in return, he struggles to find common ground. Meanwhile, his family and friends strive to fulfill their desire, as well as responsibility, to help bring him back.
Step 2: Explore these things after watching the film.
- Do you know of anyone who has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder? How did the depiction of it in the film compare to your experience with it?
- Did you have a reaction—a feeling of dread or concern—when you saw that the main character’s friends were giving him a gun and going out to hunt? Why or why not? What would you do differently and what suggestions would you make to someone whose friend is suffering from PTSD?
- What do you think sparked the change in the main character that we saw at the end of the film? Is there a lesson to be considered here? And how can you apply that lesson to your own personal situation?
- Find and record the sounds that soothe and nurture you. Make a list of all of the sounds that give you comfort or make you smile. Your child’s giggle, the sound of snow falling, the sound of your loved one sleeping next to you, bird songs at sunset. See how many sounds you can list and then make a plan to record them using a voice recording app on your phone or computer. Once you have assembled 10 to 15 sounds, make a playlist, and see how listening to these sounds impacts you.
- Write about a time where you have experienced a flashback or have been haunted by a disturbing nightmare or event. Describe the event as clearly as you can with as many details as you can recall. What was the most disturbing aspect of the flashback/event? Can you name it? Why do you think it was so disturbing? And how can you think about this event/nightmare to make it less disturbing? Can you come up with a few strategies to try?
- Help a veteran feel less isolated: Write a letter with some words of encouragement and share a little bit of your own story about getting through a difficult period in your life. Give them hope and support. Here are two ways to connect to a veteran: America’s Adopt a Soldier or Operation Gratitude.
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Step 3: Join in the conversation about the film.
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