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“The Dry Land” Playing at the Angelika Film Center and Cafe in Dallas

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By Lorrie Irby Jackson

After the horrors of war and the discharge from service, what’s in store for the soldier returning home? For many of them, acclimation may feel as foreign as a fish out of water, which is what Ryan Piers Williams captured with warm, honesty and eloquence in his feature film debut, The Dry Land.

Winner of the Dallas International  Film Festival Award (Target Filmmaker Award) for Best Narrative Feature and now playing at Dallas Angelika Film Center and Cafe, The Dry Land features well-known actors such as Wilmer Valderrama (That 70’s Show), Jason Ritter (Swimfan) and America Ferrera (Our Family Wedding), who also served as executive-producer. The story focuses on James, a son, husband and friend who returns to a small Texas town after being honorably discharged due to a humvee attack in Iraq, but finds everything spinning out of control as he descends into the clutches of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Ryan Piers Williams, the 29-year-old El Paso native, had written and directed over ten short films before The Dry Land and first won acclaim with his short film, Muertas, which screened at the Austin Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, the New York International Latino Film Festival and Palm Springs Short Festival, to name a few.  Mr. Williams said that he felt compelled to write the film after reading an article that highlighted the plight of those who battle abroad, only to return home and battle again with their inner demons and the ignorance of others who don’t understand their struggle.

“It was difficult trying to understand what was at the heart of the soldier’s experience coming home. I spent 2 years doing research before ever writing anything. What I hope the movie does is to bring awareness to some of the difficult issues that some of the soldiers are coming home to. What I found when I screened the film is that the soldiers had an honest and positive reaction. People who don’t know anyone from the military, however, feel as if it’s an over-dramatic portrayal. What that shows is that there is such is a disconnect in how the war is portrayed by the media versus what is really going on. They’re shocked that this experience is really happening.”

In addition to the powerful story and the eloquent, straight-forward style of directing, Mr. Williams also admits that having the stellar cast in place also made the difference.

“I would’ve found unknown actors if necessary because my dedication to having the story told was there. Every step of the way I knew I was going to push for the best I could possibly get, and as we were going along, more actors were getting into the script, it’s like a magical thing happened. People get excited about the script and then you get more and more people involved. They felt passionate about the material and just brought in their whole souls when they were working, I was just very lucky.”

For more screening locations, a trailer and more information about The Dry Land, visit

Categories: Lorrie Irby Jackson, Movies, The Arts
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