Sponsored Project

Visions of Warriors

Ming Lai
Ming Lai, Matt Steinauer

“Visions of Warriors” enters the minds of four veterans from the Vietnam War era to the Iraq War who are battling against mental illness—Mark Pinto, Homerina “Merina” Bond, Ari Sonnenberg, and Priscila “Peni” Bethel. They participate in the groundbreaking Veteran Photo Recovery Project at the VA Menlo Park and use innovative photography therapy to treat their moral injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, and other mental illnesses. The documentary also profiles the Veteran Photo Recovery Project team—founder and nurse Susan Quaglietti, art therapist Jeff Stadler, clinical social worker Ryan Gardner, and clinical psychologist Kristin McDonald. With a non-linear narrative structure to mirror the veterans’ shattered lives, the documentary alternates between the veterans and the mental health providers. It also introduces other dynamic veterans who participated in the program. The overall narrative arc of the film extends from the veterans’ diverse backgrounds to their challenging military service to their debilitating mental illness to their intensive treatment. Because the veterans use photography therapy to treat their mental illness, the cinematography is inspired by iconic photo essays in Life Magazine and National Geographic that intimately capture people’s lives. Ultimately, “Visions of Warriors” is a universal story about the strength of the human spirit. 

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