President Obama has a gift from two indie filmmakers waiting for him when he returns from his Hawaiian vacation.
Writer, director, and producer Lorrel Manning and Michael Cuomo, the film's star and producer, want Obama to see their hard-hitting film Happy New Year about a war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Now that the troops are finally coming home from Iraq, most people will mistakenly think the war is over," Manning says. "Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a new war will be begin for many of them."
The duo are eager to get Obama on their bandwagon to make PTSD a major focus of military medicine. "We are on the verge of an epidemic," says Manning.
Happy New Year tells the story of Sgt. Cole Lewis, a mentally and physically scarred soldier returning home from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Lewis faces an uphill battle, coping with PTSD in a veteran's hospital. The movie has already garnered some awards and a shout-out from former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who called it "a great film that reminds us of our obligation never to forget."
Manning wants all Washington politicians to see it, not just the president. "It is an apolitical film that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to see so that a real dialogue can begin," Manning says.
The movie hasn't been widely distributed yet because there's a perception in Hollywood that Americans are disinterested in seeing a film about PTSD, says Cuomo. "However, we've received tremendous interest from both our military and civilian audiences, supporting our belief that Happy New Year is a film that every American should see in 2012," Cuomo says.