By CAROLYN SZCZEPANSKI
For a critically acclaimed movie about a hometown war veteran, "Body of War" didn't stick around long in Kansas City movie theaters. The Phil Donahue-directed documentary intimately details the life of Northland native Tomas Young, who was paralyzed from the chest down after serving just five days in Iraq and came home to become a tireless anti-war activist.
When the movie debuted earlier this year, even some of the most ardent local peace advocates missed its short run at the Tivoli. But the curiosity of nurses at St. Luke's Hospital has brought the film back to KC for a brief second run.
Last month, Young fell into a coma after he suffered a blood clot in his lung. In recent days he's been discharged from intensive care, but he's still struggling to breathe on his own, says his mother, Cathy Smith.
"He's very alert and he's been trying to talk, but he can’t because of the ventilator," Smith says. "He's mouthing words, which takes a while and he gets a little impatient, but he's very aware of what's going on and wants to go home."
Because he's lost some use of his arms and has been horizontal for more than a month, Young will head to a rehabilitation facility before he goes home. Smith says the family is looking at the top four rehab centers in the country, one of which is in Omaha.
He's already made an impression on the St. Luke's staff, though. Local activist David Quinly says some of the nurses started asking about Body of War and how they might organize a screening at the hospital. Thanks to Quinly and the film's producer, Ellen Spiro, that showing won't be confined to the hospital ward.
Body of War will screen tonight at 7 p.m., tomorrow at 7 p.m. and Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Screenland Theater in the Crossroads (1656 Washington). There's a suggested donation of $10, but no one will be turned away until the theater is full.
Smith says she will attend at least one of the screenings — and Young might be there, too.