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Ex-British Soldier Stars In Film Highlighting Impact Of PTSD

'Pilgrim' is the tale of a soldier unable to cope at home after going to war so he goes to Germany.

Pilgrim Patton in his role (Picture courtesy: Julian Jacobsmeyer).

An ex-British soldier is starring in a new film 'Pilgrim' - a drama featuring gangsters, refugees and a former soldier traumatised by war.

'Pilgrim' is the tale of a soldier unable to cope at home after going to war so he goes to Germany. 

The film sees the soldier, called Pilgrim Patton, run for his life as a group of Afghan Taliban fighters hunt him down.

In reality, the actor who plays Pilgrim shares the same name as his character wrote the script and also served in the Army.

'Pilgrim' surrounded by Taliban fighters (Picture: Courtesy of Julian Jacobsmeyer).
'Pilgrim' surrounded by Taliban fighters (Picture courtesy: Julian Jacobsmeyer).

Mr Patton left the Army and warzones long ago, but still has flashbacks and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The ex-rifleman, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, says: "You don’t just wake up one morning and then you’ve got PTSD. Who knows where it starts. Who knows how it starts. I think I know how it started and why it started but that’s for me to know personally.

“People have nightmares and wake up in their sleep. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have got PTSD.

“Everyone can be depressed now and again. Everyone can be sad now and again. Everyone can be happy and go through things in their life. PTSD is having all of that at the same time every day.”

In the film, the only person Pilgrim can relate to is another veteran played by David Taylor - who is also ex-Army and psychologically affected by a tour of duty in Iraq.

Mr Taylor, who used to serve with the Royal Signals, told Forces News: "To be here is a big transformation because a few years ago no-one was even allowed to take a picture of me.

"I was like a shadow of my own - I was living in the background.

“The film helped me to relive it again and fight any demons.

“I would love to say that I am close to the end of suffering, as bad as I did, and the film for me was like closing a chapter. Obviously, I still have it but it’s milder now.”

Mr Patton says some of the film is based on reality but 70% is fiction - Afghanistan left his character depressed, violent and wary of immigrants.

But a chance meeting with a refugee family eventually changes his views.

Julian Jacobsmeyer, the film’s German director, says casting the two ex-British soldiers has changed him. 

“The past with violence, with war with psychological illnesses – nothing of this took place in my life before," he says.

"But after meeting them now, I’m way more open to topics like this and I’m understanding better what they are going through.”

Mr Patton says 'Pilgrim' is not all about PTSD but the topic is not overlooked. He adds that since 'Pilgrim' has been in production, he knows six soldiers who have taken their own lives.

“If we can stop one person, just one person – military or civilian, male or female, young or old – even a child – because it happens with children – from thinking 'there’s no way out, I would rather not live', then it’s been a success for us."

'Pilgrim' has its British premiere tonight, Saturday 24 November, at 6.30pm local time at one of our own organisation’s Forces cinemas - the Kaleidoscope Paderborn.