Filming the Charlie Reitze project was one of the most exciting opportunities that has come to me. Charlie is a humorist, a prankster, and a man who loves to make others laugh. He is sharp as a tack, super unique, and isn’t afraid of anything.
Charlie served in the Army during the Vietnam War and he shared the same difficult experiences coming home from the war as thousands of other veterans. I actually didn’t intend to highlight Charlie as one of our Hear Our Heroes projects, I was only intending on using a snippet from a regular Fjor project for a short trailer we were putting together for Hear Our Heroes.
But during our visit Charlie told me about being honored recently by the state of Maine where they formally welcomed home the soldiers from Vietnam, something that hadn’t happened when he came home years ago. I was struck with the thought that we needed to record this story—the story of heartbreak and resilience coming home unwelcomed from the war.
Though he’s 67 years old with advancing Parkinson’s disease—one of the few visible side-effects from Vietnam—Charlie can still perform a handstand and loves to hike through the Maine woods where he lives. He is the epitome of a vibrant, cheerful life.
When we began the filming he was still Charlie, but his demeanor changed. As we started to talk about his service I saw him lower a wall I didn’t even know was there. An intense feeling of reverence filled the room.
I left Charlie’s interview with an undeniable confirmation that the timing was anything but coincidence. With his quickly advancing Parkinson’s, it is no wonder. With the need to document the real story of his service in a world that wants to rewrite history, it is no wonder. He is brave, and good, and kind, and wears his heart on his sleeve. Charlie is one of those that, during his grief, chose to become tender instead of hardened.
In that interview he shared experience after experience that he had never told another living soul. Ever. I hope that even in some small way that feeling will come through in his completed documentary. It was, without question, an experience that changed me on the inside, forever.
– Kelly Blaine, Founding Partner and President, Fjor Films
To watch a short clip from Charlie’s documentary and to donate to support his story please visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hear-our-heroes-the-charlie-reitze-project.