A new film about an LGBTQ woman in the military facing post-traumatic stress disorder is in the works with Fredericton filmmaker Brenda Malley at the helm. Malley wrote After the War to bring awareness to the struggles the character faces in the film.
After 33 years of working in the New Brunswick justice system, Malley retired in October 2017 and joined the New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-operative. She took almost every course offered and learned how to write screenplays, edit videos, manage projects and everything in between.
By November 2018, Malley won the Jane LeBlanc Filmmaker Award for her script of After the War, and was awarded $600 to produce the short film.
“I’ve always been into social justice,” Malley said. “My background [was] always fighting for what’s right.”
Although Malley isn’t going to start filming until the summer, she’s already done casting auditions and has started searching for filming locations around Fredericton.
After the War is the story of Jeannie King, a paramedic in the Canadian Armed Forces, and her struggles with PTSD. Jeannie turns to alcohol to cope with her flashbacks and night terrors after witnessing a suicide bomber and is sexually assaulted by her superior officer.
Jeannie’s partner, Robin, tries to deal with her girlfriend’s drinking habit and night terrors, but ultimately leaves after Jeannie refuses to get professional help. Jeannie attempts suicide and ends up in a hospital where she receives help.
“It’s so appropriate in this day and age. You know, we hear Donald Trump talking about banning trans people from the military … and the humiliation, the trauma that [LGBTQ members] experienced … I’m hopeful in the recent years that we’re becoming more accepting,” said Malley.
Malley said she feels like there isn’t enough information about suicide and PTSD in the military, especially once the soldiers are discharged. She wanted to highlight those issues in her film, combined with the struggles of being a member of the LGBTQ community.
Although Malley explores heavy topics, the movie will be 10 minutes or shorter, so she can enter the New Brunswick Silver Wave Film Festival this fall.
After the War may be Malley’s first film, but it won’t be her last. She already finished a screenplay for her next movie, Chuppah. Malley plans to continue with the Film Co-op and explore more of her ideas, from screenplays to documentaries.
“[The NB Film Co-op is] one of the most welcoming communities I’ve ever been a part of,” she said.
“The sky’s the limit.”