Cigarette Candy tells the story of Eddie Van Buren, a traumatized teenage Marine who is forced to play the role of 'the hero' at his homecoming party. In pursuing a rebellious, precocious sixteen-year-old girl, Candy, he sees an opportunity to numb his pain and connect to a fellow lost soul.

I wanted to tell a contemporary story about the individual’s war that takes place emotionally and psychologically when subjected to physical war with the world.

My father, Andrew I. Wolkstein, a colonel in the Air Force, was in charge of several teenage airmen when he served in Iraq. He witnessed firsthand how war not only affects the soldier, but the man inside the uniform.

I wanted to tell this story through my own personal connection with how war affects loved ones coming home. The stories my father recounts are not traditional “war stories” of explosions but rather stories of destruction, disembodiment, disengagement, and isolation. Each time my father tells me a story or I read of a new wartime iniquity, I am reminded that warfare is not just physical—it’s psychological, emotional, and visceral—and that war in the 21st century is a new strain of trauma and destruction.

Cigarette Candy is not a war story, but a story of lost innocence – a boy forced too soon into adulthood. However, this story is also about the hope that exists in unexpected places, even when it seems that all hope is lost forever.

--Lauren Wolkstein

Director Lauren Wolkstein (left) and brother Daniel (right) at a young age wearing their father's fatigues while he is serving in Operation Desert Storm.

Director Lauren Wolkstein's father Colonel Andrew I. Wolkstein (left) and Jeopardy host Alex Trebek (right) during Operation Desert Storm.

Colonel Andrew I. Wolkstein, Medic