A film produced by Magnolia-based Reflective Life Ministries, “We Are Stronger,” will premiere May 13 in Richmond and May 18 in Huntsville after nearly three years of work. The faith-based film features a volunteer cast and crew, including primarily Montgomery County residents.
“It’s been really nice because we’ve been able to be involved in the community [throughout production],” coordinating producer Hannah Allen said. “I’m sure if people are sitting and watching the movie, they might recognize some faces in there.”
For example, Ulises Larramendi, owner of Eden Cafe in Magnolia and Spring, plays the lead character, Master Sgt. Victor Raphael.
Additionally, Allen said much of “We Are Stronger” was filmed in Montgomery County, including at select businesses and homes in Magnolia.
The film—funded through donations—tells the story of a soldier’s internal struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home from combat in Afghanistan as well as how PTSD affects his marriage and family, said Carla McDougal, executive director of the film and founder of Reflective Life Ministries.
“We show the need for community and ultimately the hope and healing that Christ provides,” she said.
While the idea for the film began as a story about a soldier, McDougal said the plot has expanded to include the stories of burn survivors and first responders.
“We realized that [PTSD] goes way beyond veterans,” she said.
Dean Bass, chairman of the board for Spirit of Texas Bank—the main corporate supporter of the film—said PTSD is a critical issue nationwide to which the public largely does not know how to respond.
“This is a film that raises the profile of that whole issue, and it provides information for the public on where they can access resources to make a difference,” Bass said.
In May, the team is also expected to launch Stronger Together, an alliance of local and national organizations, aiding individuals battling PTSD.
“The movie is really a bridge to a greater purpose,” McDougal said.
Larramendi said he hopes the film facilitates healing for individuals affected by PTSD by emphasizing community and educating the public about the disorder.
“If we show that you’re not alone and your next-door neighbor understands [PTSD], then we’ve covered a lot that hasn’t been done before,” he said. “That’s how [individuals]find healing: they don’t find themselves completely alone.”
“We Are Stronger” Premiere
7301 Grand Parkway, Richmond
May 13 at 3 p.m.