American media have portrayed war in a glorified light with movies such as Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers and Black Hawk Down. However, once the killing is done and the American people welcome back its heroes, what happens when the soldiers return back to their normal lives? Least Among Saints gives viewers the real story of what many veterans suffer when returning home after war: hopelessness.
Martin Papazian wrote, directed and stars in Least Among Saints. He initially came up with the idea when he met with war veterans while acting in movies, such as Jarhead, and his own experience post 9/11.
“One of the veterans had an effect on me, and post 9/11 had an effect on me,” said Papazian. “I felt it was important to put attention on these men.”
Because American war movies are so commonly filled with scenes of blood, guts and killing, Papazian’s Least Among Saints is unique in that it truly shows the effects of war rather than just the merciless violence that takes place.
“I was interested in the consequence of killing and having blood on your hands,” said Papazian. “I was interested in viewing the character that was beyond it; it was vital to tell the story of hope and redemption.”
Least Among Saints tells the story of war veteran Anthony Hayward (Papazian). After experiencing death and killing, Anthony returns home to a broken marriage and develops feelings of darkness and hopelessness that drive him to edge, including almost committing suicide.
When he meets 10-year-old Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu) who desperately needs help after his mother dies from a drug overdose, Anthony takes care of him and embarks on a journey to help find the boy’s long-lost father.
Just like Anthony’s character, Papazian drew Wade’s character from real life.
“As I was writing, I started thinking about this kid I knew…” said Papazian.
When Papazian was younger, he befriended a childhood neighbor whose mother was also a drug addict and lived on the edge. Curious to see what would happen if he added this young boy to the story, Papazian created Wade. The two main characters in the film worked harmoniously together as they help each other find hope in a hopeless situation.
Least Among Saints is in every sense a father and son story; the film is about a father and son relationship, and Papazian and his father Robert A. Papazian worked on the film together. Robert A. Papazian is an award-winning film and television producer (“Nash Bridges,” “The Burning Zone,” etc.) and came on board to help produce the film.
“Working with him was tremendous,” said Papazian about working with his father. “It was really about family and creating something that we can be proud of.”
However, Papazian admits that working with his father on his film was not always smooth sailing.
“It wasn’t without budding heads,” laughed Papazian. “But that’s all a part of making a film.”
Papazian hopes that Least Among Saints will not only connect with war veterans, but also with the general audience.
“There is a universal reach with the film; we all have regrets and dark moments,” said Papazian. “The central message is: You gain personal freedom through acts of compassion and by being of service. Through that, you’re able to find healing.”
Least Among Saints releases in theaters Oct. 12.
Don't miss Q&As opening weekend with the cast & crew:
Q & A with Writer/Director Martin Papazian & special guest, Milo at the AMC Loews Broadway 4 in Santa Monica on Friday @ 7:45 PM
Q & A with The Soldier’s Project & Veterans for Peace at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 in Pasadena on Friday @ 7:10 PM
Q & A with A.J. Cook, Audrey Anderson, Azura Skye, Ronnie Blevins & Tristan Lake Leabu at the AMC Loews Broadway 4 on Saturday @ 7:45 PM
Q & A with Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans at the AMC Loews Broadway 4 on Sunday @ 5:00 PM
Q & A with Laura San Giacomo, Martin Papazian & Tristan Lake Leabu at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 on Sunday @ 4:00 PM