FILM THREAT: We Burn Like This

Whether it’s now or later, there’s a good chance that the past will seep into the present one way or another. In the bold and poignant drama We Burn Like This, written and directed by Alana Waksman, past trauma is unearthed and experienced all over again. Yet, through restraint and prudence, the film deals with the ingrained, unavoidable impact of transgenerational trauma and the possibility of healing.

Rae (Madeleine Coghlan) is a 22-year-old Jewish woman living in the large, historic city of Billings, Montana. She spends most evenings with her best friend and roommate, Chrissy B. (Devery Jacobs). One night, Rae and her friend are walking home when a bigot throws a glass bottle at Chrissy, who is Native American, and yells, “Go back to your country.” This act of racism is followed by another as Rae wakes up to find an anti-Semitic flyer tucked in the door. Rae is shocked to discover that bigotry still runs through parts of modern society, but a more enlightened Chrissy asserts that there will always be people looking to spread hateful beliefs.

These vile scenarios send Rae on a self-destructive path. She goes to bars and parties and drinks too much. She meets a washed-up, middle-aged man named Wolf (Andrew Rizzo), who’s addicted to oxy. But when a night of drinking goes completely awry, Rae returns home and revisits not only her past but her grandmother’s, a Holocaust survivor, as well. This is when she begins her path of healing, not just one of repressing and distorting. The past is a part of who you are, and one can be a proud American while acknowledging and appreciating their ethnicity.


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