Interview: Actor/Producer Jeffrey Wright And Veteran Vainuupo Avegalio Talk HBO’s Powerful New Documentary ‘We Are Not Done Yet’

Review and interview by James Lindorf

Ten retired, and active duty military personnel representing every branch have gathered to share their stories, to share their trauma, with the world. The traumatic events range from seeing friends die, to the emotional toll of taking lives, to being raped. And while the wounds may be different, they are all seeking solace in the same place, a workshop led by poet Seema Reza. Thanks to Community Building Art Works, the veterans are able to share their insecurities, to bond, and to heal in front of a live audience at Washington D.C.’s Lansburgh Theater in a show directed by activist and actor Jeffrey Wright (Westworld).

If they were following a recipe when it came time to make “We Are Not Done Yet,” it would have been pretty simple: equal parts intriguing, infuriating and heartbreaking. Technically, the film is very well done. It is shot well, the editing is very good, and the music is perfect. The use of the cello to provide both a warmth and a sense of foreboding was a fantastic choice.

Considering the subject matter discussed within, it is probably not the technical aspects of the film that brought you here. It is likely the human element, and it’s on full display, from the darkest depths of despair to the heights of love and creativity. “We Are Not Done Yet” is a film that should be watched by anyone who wants to better understand the psychological perils of war. As sad as things can get, you are left with the sense that, while the soldiers are not done healing, they are not done fighting either. They are not done living and they are hopeful for a tomorrow that isn’t as bleak as yesterday.

In anticipation of Veteran’s Day on November 11th, HBO will debut the 40-minute short documentary on Thursday, November 8th.

Listen to the interview (and watch trailer below):

BIOS:

Jeffrey Wright

Jeffrey Wright, Actor/Producer (“We Are Not Done Yet”)

Tony, Emmy, AFI and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright has enjoyed an illustrious career that has spanned the worlds of theatre, film and television. Wright can currently been seen playing the critically acclaimed role of “Bernard Lowe” in HBO’s WESTWORLD, for which he has earned two Emmy nominations. His upcoming projects include, lead roles in Netflix’s HOLD THE DARK and the upcoming O.G. that premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, for which he won the award for “Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film”. Wright broke onto the big screen in 1996 with a harrowing performance in the feature BASQUIAT portraying the gifted, late painter Jean Michele Basquiat. Since then he’s appeared in productions such as SYRIANA, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE HUNGER GAMES SERIES, HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE and CASINO ROYALE. Born in Washington, D.C., Wright graduated from Amherst College and received a B.A. in political science. He later earned a doctorate of humane letters from his alma mater. He resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his family.

AV

Website: https://vainuupoavegalio.com/

The Military life has been a blessing and a curse. It has taken me to places I could have only dreamed of growing up on the Samoan islands. I have seen horror, destruction, merciless acts of inhumanity. I have seen gallantry and heroism. I have sent and welcomed many good friends home. I have been shot at by enemies and spit on by the people we have fought to protect. Through 12 years of service and still counting, a battle deep within grew stronger with each breath and every thought. A battle with myself. This battle eventually took its toll, leaving me gasping for air, drowning in my own shallow grave.

The feeling of regret and hate left me unable to love, feel, or care. Unable to look my mother in her eyes and tell her I love her. The emptiness and pain inside took my wife, my friends (dead & living), my family and almost my life. I needed an outlet. Art & Poetry have become a highway to healing. I love working with acrylic paint but I consider myself a mixed media artist. Experimenting with new materials constantly expands my practice: printmaking, oil painting, plaster, clay, glass, resin and spray paint just to name a few. I love the flow of each type of medium and how everything takes its own course. I believe that Art & Poetry are my therapy and reveals much more than i could ever express in words; pain, sorrow, depression, repression, aggression, healing and eventually, one day joy.

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