Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013) Poster

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The best of the far
MartinHafer15 February 2015
The first of the films in the special showing this year of the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts is the best of the lot and my pick to win the Oscar. It's a film from HBO Pictures called "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1". betcha! But unlike most of the other films, this one promotes change and awareness-- which are why I traditionally love documentary shorts. In addition, while this one will probably make you shed a few tears, it IS rather optimistic in that none of the folks whose stories you hear were successful in killing themselves. The story is set at a nationwide suicide hotline for American active duty and veteran soldiers. This nationwide hotline is in Canandaigua, New York and it focuses on the workers and supervisors at this crisis line. Throughout the film, you follow various workers as they take phone calls from despondent soldiers or their families. You do not hear the callers--just the workers and it is very, very tense but satisfying to hear them saving lives. The film really is terrific and draws needed attention to the very serious problem of emotionally wounded soldiers. Well made in every way.

UPDATE: Yippee! Rarely does the film I think SHOULD win actually wins the Oscar. Tonight this film took home the Best Documentary Short and definitely deserved it.
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Touching and relevant
Horst_In_Translation19 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" is a 40-minute documentary short film from 2013 by filmmaker Ellen Goosenberg Kent, who has worked on documentaries about all kinds of stuff in the last 20 years before making this one here, probably her career-defining film at this point. It won her an Academy Award pretty much exactly a year ago and I applaud the Academy for honoring this little gem. The premise is very simple. We all know about soldiers who come back home and face severe mental struggles. Early on we find out the terrible truth of how many of these actually kill themselves and for the rest of the film we get to witness these brave souls who are there for them.

It is a call center for veterans and their partners/family when they feel that they may be in danger of committing suicide or are just in a really bad state mentally because of what they had to witness in Afghanistan or wherever they were stationed. What I really liked about this film is that it's all about the people in the movie. There is no narrator breaking the atmosphere and we get all the informations we need displayed via text, i.e. who we are watching, who is calling etc. A great short film and I highly recommend seeing it, also if you have nothing to do with the military or do not come from the United States. Both factors apply to me and I still had a great time watching. Very depressing and yet uplifting. Thumbs up.
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A Startling Revelation, A Wonderful Bunch of Selfless Individuals
DareDevilKid15 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

This HBO documentary short offers an almost unbearably intense look inside the operations of the 24/7/365 "Veterans' Crisis Line", where mental-health professionals, some of them veterans themselves, counsel despondent and suicidal military personnel, both retired and those on active duty. It's a horrifyingly necessary job, we learn, with the U.S. in the midst of an epidemic of veteran suicides.

An opening graphic states that 22 veterans have been committing suicide daily, nearly one every hour – more than the number of soldiers lost on the battlefield. In response, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs created the "Veterans' Crisis Line" to address the issue. A chilling montage focuses on emergency rescue operators and coordinators working in tandem as they respond to various callers threatening suicide by gun, knife, pills, razor, hanging – even an intentional car wreck. Almost all the callers suffer PTSD nightmares. One operator (and vet) recalls Vietnam, where soldiers were given orders to shoot anything that moves - sometimes the "enemy" turned out to be a mother holding her infant. He proceeds to ask us how a soldier could emerge unaffected from that?

We watch paired teams battle to save U.S. veterans from committing suicide in the only existing crisis center in the country. There are 250 employed here handling 22,000 calls a month, but the film follows a few choice subjects. Operators have to make split-second decisions. How long can they maintain confidentiality before it's time to call the police? If the caller claims to have a weapon, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can't go into a house without a police escort.These exhausting negotiations often include flashbacks of mass casualties on the battlefield, re-experienced in gruesome detail. Callers hang up, then reconnect. Misreading a caller's intent can result in a call for an ambulance or the morgue.

Some callers have had as many as four deployments – before their 21st birthday. Most have families, wives or girlfriends, which the operators use to buy precious time. That the vet has reached out by calling means they are more likely to be open to professional help. The responders, as they're called, need their own support, usually a supervisor who comes in to talk them down before they head into their next call. "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" is indeed a sobering, humbling piece of work. I'm guessing it wins the statuette come Academy night on 22nd Feb.
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