Meet the Filmmaker: Paula Caplan
“Is Anybody Listening?”
Date: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Location: NY NATAS, 1375 Broadway (between 37th and 38th Streets), Suite 2103
Reception: 6:00-6:30 PM ~ Program: 6:30-8:00 PM
*Free to NY NATAS Members!
$15 for those without current NY NATAS membership.
Produced & Moderated by Sumner Jules Glimcher.
“Is Anybody Listening?”
Paula J. Caplan grew up listening to – but not remembering – the stories her beloved father, Jerome A. Caplan, told every December about the time he spent as Captain of an all-Black artillery battery in The Battle of the Bulge. Her bewilderment about why she did not remember those stories led her to try to understand the experiences of both military veterans and the nonveterans (like her) with whom they share their communities or even their homes. Through decades of work in the mental health system as a psychologist, she had learned to her surprise that psychiatric diagnosis is not scientific and often harmful. When the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, she foresaw that their veterans would speedily be diagnosed as mentally ill rather than as experiencing the deeply human consequences of war, sexual assault in the military, and the culture shocks of going from civilian to military life and back again. She has acted to try to stop this harmful pathologizing and advocate for humane, often community-based ways of offering help. What Col. (Ret.) David Sutherland calls “the epidemic of disconnection” between veterans and nonveterans leads to each group’s stereotypic views of the other that keep them apart and feed the isolation that leads to veterans’ alarming rates of suicide, homelessness, substance abuse, and family breakdown. Recognizing that the divide both arose from and helped maintain the nation’s war illiteracy and even military illiteracy among people of all political stripes, Caplan a dozen years ago began listening to whatever any veterans wanted to tell her. That gave rise to The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project, which simply consists of pairing a (combat or noncombat) veteran from any era and having the nonveteran only listen to whatever the veteran wants to say. Both veterans and nonveterans describe the sessions as community-based connections that are meaningful, helpful, even transformative for both. Using her interviews with veterans including a 96-year-old, Black man who served with Captain Caplan; Col. Sutherland; and more recent veterans from Veterans in Film and Television; as well as archival footage and photos and artist Amy Smith’s illustrations, Paula’s film takes us with her on her journey to understand veterans and bridge the divides between them and others in the communities where they live.
Paula J. Caplan, a clinical and research psychologist, is author of eleven nonfiction books and numerous awardwinning plays, an actor, director, and producer. Her book When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans, won three national awards for nonfiction, and her plays about veterans have won awards and been produced across the United States and in Canada. She was a psychology professor at the University of Toronto and has taught at Harvard University, where she is Associate at the DuBois Research Institute and did a two-year fellowship in the Women and Public Policy Program of Harvard Kennedy School. She is honored to be invited to do this event with the deservedly esteemed and gracious Sumner Jules Glimcher.
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