Award-Winning Documentary to Screen in Whitefish

By Beacon Staff

More than 24 million Americans are believed to be struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. That number continues rising as tens of thousands of servicemen and women return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seek help facing PTSD and what has been called “the war at home.”

As new research sheds light on the mental disorder, doctors are increasingly relying on therapy treatment over drugs.

For Eric Hastings, a retired Marine colonel and Vietnam veteran, healing came with casting a fly rod.

Hastings began sharing this restorative opportunity through the Montana chapter of the Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation. Every summer the organization brings groups of Wounded Warriors from across the U.S. to Bozeman. The men and women spend a week fly fishing and touring Yellowstone National Park.

The stories that emerged from Warriors & Quiet Waters began spreading throughout the community and filmmakers Shasta Grenier and Sabrina Lee caught wind of Hastings’ efforts.

“I will admit that I was very skeptical of what a week could do,” Grenier told the Beacon last week. “But my skepticism was definitely turned to belief after seeing it. It was amazing to see. There was the real relaxation that the participants found on the streams here. And also the camaraderie they built with the volunteers and with each other.”

Grenier and Lee gathered a local film crew and attended one of the trips in 2010. The result is the award-winning documentary, “Not Yet Begun to Fight,” which is screening at events across the U.S. The film made its Montana debut at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula last month and won the “Big Sky Award.”

The hour-long film is the main feature at this year’s Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. The touring fundraiser, which supports the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, comes to Whitefish on Thursday, March 21, at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event runs 7-10 p.m. The evening includes drinks, food and a raffle. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

The film festival is the largest annual fundraiser for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, which has organized preservation work in the wilderness for 16 years.

This year’s fundraiser features at least nine films that showcase the outdoors. The roster includes “Racing The End,” about bike racers in the busy streets of Los Angeles, and “Island,” a story about two young women who embarked on an unforgettable canoe adventure.

Another scene from “Not Yet Begun to Fight” | Contributed photo

But the evening’s main attraction is surely “Not Yet Begun to Fight.” The film, co-directed by Lee and Grenier, begins in San Diego at the naval hospital’s critical care unit. Lee and Grenier followed a group of wounded veterans as they journeyed to Montana to meet Hastings and a staff of volunteers who introduced them to fly fishing and the river.

For the filmmakers it was equally adventuresome. Filming took place on boats and entirely on the move as Hastings taught the participants everything about fishing.

“The week was wild,” said Grenier. “It was such an adventure making it.”

By the end of the week, everyone was having success and enjoying every minute, she said.

“Making their reintegration as smooth as prossible is really important. People all over the country are taking different approaches to reaching out a helping hand,” she said. “This is just one that happens here in a really impressive way.”

Grenier, 32, won a regional Emmy for the previous film she co-directed, “Class C: The Only Game In Town,” about small-town basketball teams in Montana.

Her latest film has received similar praise across the nation.

“We’re just really pleased with the response we’ve gotten,” she said. “In Montana, people know the streams, they know the flies. But we’ve shown the film all over the place, like at the Lincoln Center in New York, and in places where people don’t necessarily have experience with fly fishing. And they really connect with the stories they hear from each of these five guys.”

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