Coming to DVD from director Michael Brown, Stone Circle Releasing and Virgil Films comes an amazing journey of the human spirit trying to reach HIGH GROUND.
This film tells the story of eleven Iraqi-Afghanistan veterans who have returned to civilian life. After each suffering from different conditions that include post-traumatic stress, blindness and loss of limb due to war and brain injuries, they look to find peace.
A challenge before them is to climb to the top of a mountain in the Himalayas with their disabilities, fears, and hopes pushing them along the way. All members of different branches of the military they do have one thing in common – a camaraderie that cannot be explained – it can only experienced.
FINAL WORD: To watch a film about soldiers who received injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan climbing to the Himalayas is astounding. Each story told by these courageous men and women allow us to know the reasons for the challenge they set for themselves.
There fears, frustrations and hopes are all combined for the viewer to understand. The realization of their life changing events brings about so much self-destruction in many ways. The re-acclimation of their lives comes with the cost of losing who they once were. There is such a sadness hearing they do not believe that anyone understands them.
Landing in Nukla, Nepal (elevation 9,100 ft), the climbers are surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. As the trek begins each soldier experiences the people of the land, the breathtaking sites and visit a monastery.
Excitement builds when they see Lobuche (elevation 15, 980 ft) in front of them and now the real challenge begins. When they reach the High Camp (elevation 17,080 feet), there is more reflection on comrades, family and, in some cases, remembrances by those who died that inspire each person to live life fully.
The climbers are: Steve Baskis, San Sidles, Katherine Ragazzino, Matt Nyman, Brian Mockenhaupt, Cody Miranda, Nicolette Maroulis, Aaron ‘Ike’ Isaacson, Chad Butrick, Chad Jukes, Lona Parten, Justin Moore, Luis Benitez, Ashley Crandall and Brad Bull.
The film has received awards from the Vail Film Festival (Cadillac Audience Award), Boulder International Film Festival (People’s Choice Award), Newport Beach Film Festival (Audience Award Best Documentary) and the Official Selection of the Seattle International Film Festival.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give HIGH GROUND four tubs of popcorn out of five. The emotions of this film are so raw and unsettling as each comes to terms with the war, loss of friends and even a loss of self. Dealing with anger and deep sadness they seek relief at the top of the world to reclaim their world once again. At the top comes tears and pride in experiencing a life well lived again.
When a film can show how two blind climbers tackle something they can’t see, climbers missing limbs dig deep into the snow with their prosthetics, climbers take on a second mountain with the first being the emotions of trauma experienced and a Mother climb for her son – be sure to have tissue handy when watching this film.
On a personal and grateful note, having a son who returned safely from three tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army – I wish to thank each of these wonderful and astonishing human beings for their service. It is my deepest hope that each finds the happiness and peace they so richly deserve.
Each story is one that deserved to be told and watching each of them take on the climb is astonishing to watch – truly.
In the end – eleven wounded warriors climb home from a war!