David Grand, renowned therapist and Faithful Response Clinical Supervisor, is currently directing After the Flags Go Away, a documentary that focuses on recovering from trauma. Grand follows the lives of three people who have faced unimaginable losses from tragedies like 9/11, and joins them as they travel on a healing journey to New Orleans to meet and support Katrina survivors. The documentary is still in production, and seeking funding and distribution. To watch a sneek peak of this great film in Quicktime, click here.
Documentary Connects Victims
From the Lafayette Advertiser
by Jan Risher
New York film documentarian David Grand wasn't expecting to find a ghost town Monday afternoon when he went to Delcambre. Grand and his cast and crew arrived in Lafayette on Monday morning to spend the day with trauma survivors. Grand is the director of After the Flags Go Away, a documentary that follows the healing journeys of three trauma survivors. The survivors include Rose Foti, mother of a firefighter who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; Judy Buchman, a singer who survived a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel; and Dennis Eccardo, who was permanently disabled in an industrial accident.
The three trauma survivors, all from New York City, made the trek to Louisiana with Grand. They started in New Orleans on Wednesday and will return to New York today. Grand said he intentionally waited to come to Louisiana. Following the trends of trauma, he expected the attention to wane.
"You don't go in to help people with trauma while people are still being rescued," Grand said. "We're neighbors. We wanted to see with our own eyes. We didn't want to just stay in New Orleans. We came to Lafayette and Delcambre and Henry because we wanted to see the lost among the lost."
Grand, who also is a psychotherapist and author, said one of the crucial aspects of trauma survivors' recovery is to tell their stories - and be heard. In Delcambre, he met Harriet Fowler, who told him of the loss of her community.
Speaking with Fowler as they walked through God's Acre cemetery, Grand led Fowler through a therapy technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. The technique is used in treating trauma and post-traumatic stress by stimulating the left and right sides of the brain. "It helped release bottled-up emotions and sadness. I guess I didn't know how to deal with it. I pray every night, but this helped," Fowler said.
Throughout the day, everyone involved with the documentary drew comparisons between the Katrina and Rita catastrophes and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They echoed many conclusions drawn locally. "In the aftermath of 9/11, everyone, myself included, was frightened about going in the city and subways. Coming down here is a whole different thing - you're talking about whole states," Eccardo said. "On a personal level, as a family man, as an American, we've got to start looking within. We've got to take care of each other."
Buchman compared the trauma experienced by so many hurricane victims to the Holocaust. "People had to be very cunning to survive," she said. Foti is on a mission to have a proper burial for her son, Robert Joseph Foti. She said his remains are in the Fresh Kills garbage dump, along with the remains of many others who died in the attach on the World Trade Center. "I could tell this story until I die, and I still can't believe I'm saying these things," she said.
By Monday evening, Grand said the day in and around Acadiana was a good one, but not necessarily what he expected. "Like life and therapy, you accomplish things you don't set out to accomplish," he said.
Grand said he expects the full-length documentary to be in theaters as early as December 2006.
Originally published December 13, 2005