HBO’s powerful new documentary short WE ARE NOT DONE YET, airing November 8thand produced by actor Jeffrey Wright (HBO’s Westworld), follows the stories of ten U.S. veterans striving to combat their traumatic military histories through art, poetry and performance. At a workshop led by poet Seema Reza and Community Building Art Works, they share their fears, vulnerabilities and victories, using the written word to heal, bond, encourage and empower. Their work culminates in a live performance at Washington D.C.’s Lansburgh Theater under the direction of Wright. As much of an activist as he is an actor, Wright produced the short and has been heavily involved with veteran organizations for years. He was so inspired by the group’s process and motivation during the workshop that he knew he had to get a camera crew inside and help share their stories.
There is something so cathartic about standing onstage and bearing one’s soul. When it’s your own written word it’s on another level. When the words are true, it’s the most powerful of all. WE ARE NOT DONE YET gives a literal voice to a group of veterans living with PTSD. They have used performance art to share their stories, lives, and emotions with an audience now far beyond the Lansburgh Theater. HBO has given us a gift in this short. It has opened the door for others to speak, hope, and feel connected in a new way. Watching these fine people is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m not sure you can sit back and hold back the tears as a human being as you experience their trauma through their writing. Not of a moment of this film feels exploitative from an observer with zero military background. I’m hoping it reads the same for those who might believe they are alone. WE ARE NOT DONE YET aired this evening and will be available on HBO Now and HBO Go. This is important filmmaking. The message is clear. We cannot ignore the trauma, we must embrace it and do better for all our veterans.