Film about veterans' trauma to make Maine debut

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PORTLAND — The University of Southern Maine will host the state premiere of a documentary detailing soldiers’ wartime trauma and their struggles to transition home.

The documentary, titled “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” will premiere Oct. 3 at the university’s Hannaford Hall, located in the Abromson Community Education Center on 88 Bedford St. An invitation-only reception will be held at 6:30 p.m.; the film will be screened at 7:30 p.m. and a question and answer session with the filmmakers will follow.

Eric Christensen, the director of the 106-minute documentary, said he has made documentaries about individual trauma in the past, which eventually led him to the topic of wartime trauma. The documentary, portions of which were filmed in Maine, features veterans who survived injuries in war and their attempts to transition to life back home, as well as their family members.

The documentary looks at veterans suffering grief and trauma and spans multiple decades, from World War II to modern day conflicts.

Christensen, who lives in Burbank, California, said he hopes the message people take from the film is that recovering from trauma is a process.

“I want people to take away hope from the film and relate it their own traumas,” Christensen said.

He said military trauma is an acute example of trauma, and it is a good analogy that people who are suffering from their own trauma can relate to.

Pam Payeur, founder and executive director of the veteran’s group Wounded Heroes Program of Maine, said she first met Christensen in July 2012, when he came to Maine to announce his film and attend a fundraising event for her program. Payeur and her son, Michael, an Iraq War veteran who served two combat tours and survived 11 improvised explosive device blasts, are both featured in the documentary.

“It’s such an important film to open the window to a world most people don’t understand or think doesn’t affect them, but most certainly does,” Payeur said.

Payeur said she hopes the documentary helps open the audience’s eyes to what wounded soldiers returning from war face in their transition home. She said it is a choice to serve in the military, and that those who don’t serve are in a position to make the transition easier.

“People (need to) understand we all have role to play in thanking them for what they’ve done and the sacrifices they have made and their families have made,” she said.

Doors to the free screening will open to the public at 7 p.m.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Movie poster for the documentary “Searching for Home: Coming Back from War,” which will premeire at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Community Education Center in Portland on Oct. 3.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or