28 January 2012

'Recovering': The Film

Official trailer for Recovering, the documentary film from Become Films on Vimeo.

Become Films has just released the trailer for their new project, "Recovering". The documentary follows several veterans during the summer of 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as they cycle through several states on the East Coast, including the sites of the 9/11 attacks, as well as Normandy, France.

From film maker Michael de Yoanna:

When my partner Greg Campbell and I began shooting this yet-to-be-named documentary film in late May, during a week-long veterans’ road cycle ride, we agreed it might be a good idea if I churned out a few miles with the riders. I’d get to know them and I could even attach a tiny HD camera to my bicycle and capture some shots. Then, we theorized, I could hop back in a van and get into director mode.

That all changed on the first day. The challenging road cycling rides, organized by Ride2Recovery, moved so fast that the best way to get to know the subjects of the film was to ride every day. On my bike, I’d introduce myself and veterans would tell me their stories—or not. Whatever. It was cool. At the end of each day of riding, there’d always be that question: “Are you riding again tomorrow?” At first, I’d hesitate to promise to ride. In the end, I pedaled every mile, more than 1,800 of them over the course of three rides. The only reason I can offer is that I was really enjoying the company. It was so inspiring to be around veterans struggling with seen and unseen wounds taking their recoveries into their own hands.

Every rider I sidled up to had an amazing story to tell and some wanted to share their stories on camera. I was in a position to help them help others understand the often forgotten toll of 10 years of war on a generation of Americans called to duty in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

During the week that followed Memorial Day, I rode every mile from Arlington National Cemetery to Virginia Beach. Then I rode through Normandy, France, seeing the sites of World War II and hearing tales of that nation’s liberation from Nazis by Allied Forces.

The final ride was Ride2Recovery’s 9/11 Challenge, in which hundreds of wounded warrior bicyclists, hand-cyclists, recumbent riders and others visited the sites of the 9/11 attacks: New York City, a field outside Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon.

But the R2R challenge only offered 550 miles. To a handful of riders, that was not enough. So the idea of a “pre-ride,” adding an additional 361 miles to total 911, was hatched. The idea came from Justin Minyard, an Army sergeant and passionate cyclist still recovering from wounds he received both as a first responder to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon as well as in combat in the ensuing years. Justin sought to honor the victims of 9/11. He also wanted to find some closure to the mental anguish he suffered as a result of those horrible days a decade ago. That’s why he was devastated to learn he could not participate. Unexpected medical issues arose and riding a bicycle could be dangerous. He would stay home instead.

Yet a handful of riders—initially five—decided to carry on with the “mission,” as it was called, often thinking of Justin along the way.

There's lots more to Michael's terrific account of the highs and lows of the ride, and the story of recovery, friendship, and homecoming during the summer of 2011 here. I'm not sure many people truly understand how these kinds of events help our wounded warriors deal with a lot of different issues on multiple levels, but this film appears to go a long way toward that goal.

"Recovering" is now in the editing stage and I'm very much looking forward to its release later this year.

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