Film Society explores PTSD through Israeli film

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Sarah Clift teaches a course about the philosophy of memory and trauma at the University of King’s College. (Photo: Fadila Chater)

(Written on November 21st, 2o15)

By Fadila Chater

Students gathered in the G. Peter Wilson Common Room at the University of King’s College Thursday to watch artistic depictions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Israeli film, Waltz with Bashir.

The film tells the story of director Ari Folman and his struggle to remember his years as an Israeli soldier in the Lebanon War of 1982. He encounters his memories in a series of PTSD induced flashbacks.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness that affects those who have experienced first-hand trauma. Symptoms of PTSD include hallucinations, flashbacks and loss of memory about aspects of the traumatic event.

Sarah Clift, a professor at the University of King’s College and expert in the philosophical study of memory, chose to screen the film because of its unique depiction of trauma and PTSD.

“It certainly does capture the essence of the haunting that is so unbelievably debilitating,” said Clift, referring to the symptoms of PTSD.

In November, the Canadian Military released a report that details 80 suicides among regular male soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces between 2001-2014. In an investigation by the Globe and Mail, the number of soldiers who committed suicide after returning from the Afghanistan war is a third of the number of soldiers who were killed while serving in it.

PTSD among soldiers has doubled over the last decade and is said to be the cause of a percentage of suicides.

“There is a kind of crisis of masculinity, if I can put it that way, that is signaled, I think, by the failure of military officials and their infrastructure to provide adequate facilities and resources for soldiers with PTSD,” said Clift.

The film depicts hallucinogenic scenes of lost memory against stark yellows and greys. Bloody war violence is often shown in gruesome detail.

Audience members grimaced at shocking images of death and torture. The final moments of the film show real life images of a street littered with the bodies of the dead, causing some students to shield their eyes or cry.

“The scene when the woman is coming towards you crying because her village was destroyed really brings home the reality and gravity of the situation,” said movie-goer Daniel Platts.

The King’s Foreign Film Society hosted the event. Film Society member Taylor Saracuse concluded the screening by encouraging students in the room to discuss their thoughts.

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First year student Layla Gibson says that she is interested in learning more about PTSD and trauma. (Photo: Fadila Chater)

“We are sitting here in Foundation Year Programme, talking about what a table is, and there are people dying right now. I’m not discrediting philosophy, but meditating on the issues of this film puts you in your place,” said Layla Gibson, a first-year student.

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