In BURIED ABOVE GROUND, we meet three Americans who are fighting ongoing battles with PTSD -- Luis, a combat veteran; Erundina, a lifelong survivor of domestic violence who fights addiction issues; and Ashley, a New Orleanian who lived through Hurricane Katrina and returns to confront the aftermath. One powerful narrative plays, whereby the personal becomes polemic.
Luis’s journey establishes a master narrative that capitalizes on the public’s emerging understanding of the relationship between combat trauma and PTSD. Through Luis’s arc, we learn about the hellish symptoms of PTSD -- acute anxiety, flashbacks, severe depression, dissociation, hypervigilance, emotional numbness, and isolation. From there, we see the ways that PTSD devastate the lives of other trauma survivors who are far less visible in the culture: survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and natural disasters.
BURIED ABOVE GROUND embeds in its three subjects' lives over a six year journey using subjective framing, vérité, interviews, and personal video archives. We gain access to their therapy sessions, home life, and efforts to embrace community all the while trying to unburden themselves from the crippling lock of their past traumas. Luis learns to cope through the bond he forms with his service dog Tuesday and by becoming an advocate. In the wake of evacuating Hurricane Katrina, Ashley returns to New Orleans to rebuild herself, her home, and her city. After a lifetime of abuse, Erundina wages an ongoing fight for her sobriety, while putting herself through college and repairing the relationship with her son.