New School News

Talia Lugacy Releases Feature Film This Is Not a War Story

On Wednesday, November 3, Talia Lugacy’s new film entitled This Is Not a War Story was released on the HBO Max platform nationwide. An Assistant Professor of Screen Studies, Lugacy teaches in the department of Culture and Media at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts as well as directs feature films such as this one. 

The movie follows a community of veterans in New York whose anti-war attitude connects them as they navigate the complicated and nearly impossible healing they must face after war. Lugacy describes the film as a “narrative hybrid film made in collaboration with anti-war combat veterans,” and says it acts as an “antidote to mainstream hero-worship regarding Veterans and America’s forever wars.” 

Lugacy has been working on this film since 2016, and she made a point to bring together people from many different disciplines for the project. She began the writing process on her own, but took a large step back as she wondered about the ethics of telling the veteran’s story. After getting up the courage to reach out to veterans, the film really blossomed. 

“I built up trust with them [the veterans] over time,” Lugacy shared. She explained that the veterans she worked with were really “wanting civilians to take more interest in their lives and struggle.”

Lugacy began as a part-time professor at The New School, but consistently found what was happening in her classroom to be “grounding as an artist,” she said. She described the classroom as a laboratory for new film ideas, and shared that her students have provided encouragement and excitement about movie projects like this one. 

As a professor, Lugacy tries to show students that they can find their own voice and creativity — that they can make the kind of movies that really speak to them. She says This Is Not a War Story can be a testament to that process. “This film took time, dedication, and the right kind of people,” she reflected. Even though it was a very small movie, the quality spoke for itself because of the vision, heart, and creative control put into the final product. She says it has been incredibly gratifying to share that real success with her students. 

This Is Not a War Story applies to a wide selection of viewers because of the film’s exploration of trauma. Lugacy describes the work as “using veteran’s experiences, but transcending specificity to ask universal questions about trauma.” She hopes that a film like this one can open up discourses about trauma, and that veterans will no longer have to singularly carry the repercussions of war, but that there will be a collective acknowledgement. Lugacy is excited about the possibilities that may stem from a movie like this one, and the conversations it could start.

Lugacy has another film in the works inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that explores themes of racial and economic injustice. She has been writing the script during the pandemic, and though the press of This Is Not a War Story has been very exciting, she is eager to return to her work on another impactful script and movie, entitled Whitey on the Moon, currently being set up at Warner Media.  

This Is Not a War Story runs 1 hour and 52 minutes and was made with support from various veteran groups, including Veterans for Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Professor Lugacy recommends people find time to watch the movie as a way to honor the recent Veterans Day, and if interested in learning more about the veterans or ideas involved, to visit, Frontline Arts or About Face: Veterans Against the War. You can also read professor Lugacy’s recent article for Filmmaker Magazine about the making of the film. 

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