‘Wilderness’ Explores the Therapeutic Power of Roughing It

‘Wilderness’ Explores the Therapeutic Power of Roughing It
The great outdoors, for many of us, is a source of solace and perspective on our harried daily existence. But what if you actually needed nature to save your life, or your teenage child's? Wilderness, a new documentary drama by veteran experimental company En Garde Arts, follows a group of teens combating existential crises — anger, depression, addiction — through a hardcore wilderness therapy program. Created by company founder Anne Hamburger and director Seth Bockley, using interviews with real teens and their families, Wilderness is a compassionate glimpse at the outer edge of teenage angst.

A smart ensemble of young actors turns the real-life stories from Hamburger's research into an endearing constellation of high school kids in distress. One has anger issues and experiments with drugs, once climbing an eighty-foot crane while high. Another took to self-harm as an escape from online slut-shaming. A third is transgender, and began lying pathologically as a way of coping with the trauma of coming out.
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