Documenting Domestic Life

This week must be documentary week for me.

I was listening to NPR on my way home from an appointment yesterday and Cynthia Hill, director and producer of Private Violence, an HBO documentary, was being interviewed. Very interesting interview. Two points she made have really stuck with me. The first was that the video of NFL player Ray Rice slugging his wife Janay in the hotel elevator in Atlantic City and then dragging her, seemingly unconscious, out of the elevator, has actually given the general public an up-close-and-personal wake-up call. The usual privacy of domestic violence is now graphically public- impossible to ignore. The second point that has stuck with me is that toward the end of the interview she reiterated a horrifying statistic that I have read and heard many a time: THREE WOMEN A DAY DIE as a result of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. But the reality of that seemed to settle in my brain differently. This morning I looked up and read Neil Genzlinger’s article in the New York Times, entitled “In a Portrait of Violence an Appeal for Reform.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/20/arts/private-violence-an-hbo-documentary-on-domestic-abuse.html?_r=0 , and I realized that yes, this documentary is an appeal – a passionate appeal to understand and eradicate domestic violence. For more information, check out this review in the New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/private-violence-tv-review-article-1.1978279

On Saturday, at an Atlanta Writers Club meeting, I met Donna Musil, who created the first documentary about growing up in the military. The name of it is BRATS: Our Journey Home, and it’s excellent. Kris Kristofferson tells his story and his music plays throughout. General Norman Schwarzkopf is interviewed along with others, as their stories highlight the benefits and hardships of growing up in a military family. As the spouse of a West Point grad I certainly was very interested in it; many of our friends’ children are Army “brats,” and three of our own children were born into that life. As a family therapist, I was surprised to learn that military brats comprise 5% of our population and I noticed my mind wandering into memories of clients whose parents were in the military. Like Cynthia’s, Donna’s documentary is an appeal – in her case – an appeal to understand. I think that every therapist and clergy person who works with folks either in the military now, or in the past, should watch this film.  For more information or to order it visit the webbsite at: http://www.bratsfilm.com

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