Back in 2015, students Shannon Lough, Emanuela Campanella, Sarah Turnbull, and Fangliang Xu, all part of the journalism program at Carleton University, created the short film, The Secret War.
The Secret War, only 14 minutes long, shows the impact that the war in Afghanistan has had on soldiers – a war that still impacts many soldiers and veterans today. It also focuses on the work The War Horse Project is doing to help veterans.
The documentary follows the journey of two Canadian veterans, Roger Boudreau and Shannon Gray. Boudreau and Gray were both traumatized by their experiences in the Afghan war, and suffer from PTSD. They both also took part in a War Horse group therapy sessions.
The documentary was nominated for Best Student Production at Yorkton Film Festival and won Best Documentary at Carleton University’s School of Journalism Screening.
The War Horse Project is an organization that helps veterans cope with their PTSD through an equine assisted psychotherapy program.
“Horses live in the present moment. And people with PTSD live in the past. To have a connection with the horse and to have them trust you, you really need to find peace in the present moment,” Alison Vandergragt said in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen. “It was interesting to see the connection with the horses. The horses are just so intelligent. They’re something about them. They read your mind and body language.”
Participants receive guidance from onsite psychologists and equine facilitators to explore who they are now, after having suffered trauma. The program’s multiphase approach aims at addressing the needs of the whole family through a 16 week, peer-supported program. There is no cost to attend these programs.
The documentary will be featured at the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival at 6 pm on Saturday, February 2nd. The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival is a not-for-profit organization that aims to recognize, promote, and celebrate Canadian films and filmmakers.
The festival was started by Jith Paul. He based the festival on a series of showings he coordinated of over 150 Ottawa based and Canadian Independent films over a four year period in Ottawa.
The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival was created when Paul decided to take the series to the next level in order to better promote independent filmmakers, and reach a broader audience. Click here for information on the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival and for more information on The War Horse Project please click here.