Love After War: Saving Love, Saving Lives 2021
Distributed by New Day Films, 350 North Water Street Unit 1-12, Newburgh, NY 12550; 888-367-9154
Produced by Mitchell Tepper
Directed by Mark Schoen and Mitchell Tepper
Streaming, 57 mins
Interpersonal Relations; Sexuality; War
Date Entered: 07/31/2023Reviewed by Kay Hogan Smith, Retired - University of Alabama at Birmingham, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
It’s long been observed that Americans are hung up about sex. What happens then when the young people we send to war are injured in both physical and psychological ways that interfere with natural sexuality and relationships when they come home? As filmmaker and sexologist Mitchell Tepper, PhD., MPH, ruefully admits in this film, these veterans often must navigate the post-injury landscape of sexual expression and intimacy without much help from medical experts at a time when their wartime experiences may make it very difficult to cope with relationships in general.
With Love After War, Tepper – himself a disabled individual - attempts to address the sensitive issues and questions that can create barriers of intimacy for returning combat veterans, whether their injuries are physical, psychological, “moral,” or a combination of the above. Through a combination of courageous and frank first person interviews with heterosexual couples as well as expert input from a wide range of medical and psychological fields (most connected to the veterans’ health disciplines), the film focuses on the significant challenges to intimacy for returning veterans and their relationships. These challenges may be due to PTSD, survivor guilt, or other mental health issues or the physical obstacles to sex in someone who may have been severely injured or paralyzed.
Throughout the documentary, Tepper himself dispenses calm, encouraging advice on overcoming these challenges, directing his advice at both veterans and spouses as well as health care providers who may be reticent about raising such issues with their patients. The latter especially may find this documentary a positive, sensitive example of the kind of honest discussion of sexual issues needed. If there is any complaint with Love After War, it may be that the background instrumental music is ultimately more distracting than enhancing. However, that minor concern aside, this brave, hopeful film should find a welcome reception among veterans and health care provider audiences alike.
Awards: The Miami International Cinefest, 2021, Winner Best documentary; Courage Film Festival, 2022, Semi-Finalist documentary feature; World London Film Festival, 2021, Gold selection feature movie; The Impact DOCS Awards, 2021, Award of merit documentary feature; The IndieFEST Film Awards, 2021, Winner Award of merit
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