Daniel J. Pico’s first feature drama packs an emotional wallop of Iraq War veterans with PTSD

The Iraq War/PTSD drama “Farewell Darkness,” which plays June 25-26 at the Film Center, is Daniel J. Pico’s first feature film?but not his first war film.

Pico’s young career is marked by two accomplished shorts: the World War II drama “Two Days in Limbo,” and “Soldier,” adapted from David Bianchi’s performance poem and starring Bianchi.

Pico grew up wanting to be a soldier, but his outlook changed as he began to recognize the reality of military life.

“As I grew older I saw the extraordinary sacrifice that soldiers make and it broadened my respect for them, but I said ?that’s not the life for me,'” Pico said. “Stories of soldiers always appealed to me. There’s so much drama?the immediacy of life and death.”

Keith Compton stars in “Farewell Darkness” as an Iraq War veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from both combat and childhood abuse, returning home to confront his father (Circus?Szalweski) after his mother’s suicide. BriAnna Weaver co-stars as Compton’s girlfriend.

Roy Maurer, who served in the Marines in the ?90s, wrote the screenplay, with Pico contributing rewrites on later drafts.

Maurer and Pico attended Columbia together through 2002. After finishing school, Maurer moved to Los Angeles, Pico stayed in Chicago, but they kept in touch, exchanging ideas about a military drama in those early days of the Iraq War.

“The idea of a soldier returning home for revenge is such a classic idea, we both wanted to get into that,” Pico said.