Las Cruces filmmaker Ed Breeding says he was inspired to make his latest film, “Shattered Reality,” by a meeting with an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran who is the nephew of Ann Remick Barlow, who runs Spirit Ranch, a non-profit organization which uses horses to provide therapy to kids and vets. A powerful poem about war, written by Breeding’s cousin, provided another motivation for the film.
“Shattered Reality” will be screened at the Rio Grande Theatre Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. as a fundraiser for Spirit Ranch through the Kids Helping Kids Foundation. Admission is free with donations accepted. The 51-minute documentary is not, Breeding warns, a film for entertainment. It is about emotions related to the trauma of war and may, he says, bring some viewers to tears. But that is not his goal. He believes the film can bring awareness and understanding to the civilian population about what veterans endured during — and after — war and therapy and healing to the veterans themselves.
Many young people go to war as a patriotic duty and even to seek adventure. In her poem, Breeding’s cousin, Mary Ann Russell, encapsulates the feelings of a Civil War soldier at different stages of his war experience when the narrator says, “When you’re eighteen years old, war sure is swell” and one year later, “Nineteen going on 90 and war sure is hell.” The poem, along with photographs of the Civil War, sets the tone of the film during the opening moments and, Breeding says, the last line “Is the essence of ‘Shattered Reality’.”
Many veterans come home from war unwilling to talk about what they experienced. Their families often shield them, warning visitors that they won’t want to talk about it. But, Breeding, who is an Air Force veteran himself, says they may be willing to share their experiences in the right situation. When he asked some vets in New Mexico to be interviewed for the film, they were reluctant to talk. He explained his goal to them, saying, “I plan to put this film out across the whole U.S. into as many vet organizations as possible. Whatever you’re willing to share in this film can possibly be a therapy and healing for other vets if you let it out.” They ended up talking for over two hours.
He says, “I think it has to do with our civilian population that has not generally really taken time to show they want to know and hear, so the soldiers hold it in and it becomes cancerous, metaphorically speaking and physically.”
“Shattered Reality” includes interviews with 13 veterans from New Mexico and Tennessee, including former state senator Mary Jane Garcia, who spent six years in Viet Nam as war nurse, and several recipients of the Purple Heart. These veterans served in Viet Nam, Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Breeding speaks about the different experiences Viet Nam vets had upon returning home compared to vets from more recent wars. They were, he explains, spit upon and called “baby killers,” further reducing their willingness to talk about what happened to them overseas. With his film, Breeding hopes to give vets permission and encouragement to share their experiences and for civilians to be better prepared to be accepting listeners.
Breeding, who is also a photographer, painter, and writer, works alone to create his films. He doesn’t charge organizations to show them and he doesn’t ask for grants. He does all the work himself, other than final editing steps during which he collaborates with a film editor from Albuquerque. He had made over a dozen independent documentaries, including “The Human Effect,” “Straight Line Curves,” “Love Cures Homophobia,” “Echoes from the Ancestors,” and two films that will be screened at the Rio Grande Theatre on June 11 as a fundraiser for the Doña Ana Arts Council, “Heart of the Arts: Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley, New Mexico” and “Holders of Wisdom.”
For more information about Ed Breeding, go to his website, www.ed-breeding.artistwebsites.com and IMBD.
“Shattered Reality” will be shown Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main Street, Las Cruces. There is no charge for admission, but donations will be accepted for Kids Helping Kids Foundation, which funds Spirit Ranch’s therapy work with veterans, their families, and children.
The Rio Grande Theatre is managed by the Doña Ana Arts Council. The theatre box office and Doña Ana Arts Council office are on the second floor of the theatre. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and one hour prior to show time. For more information, go to www.riograndetheatre.com or call (575) 523-6403.