Diverse stories of veterans in coming film festival

THE VETERANS Film Festival, inaugurated on Remembrance Day last year in Canberra, is coming back as a three-day event in October, it was announced last night at the Australian War Memorial.

Sold out -  Canadian feature “Hyena Road”

Sold out – Canadian feature “Hyena Road”

With the aim of highlighting the humanity of war, festival director Tom Papas has expanded the scope from a short film festival to include more than 30 hand-selected movies, including the award-winning full-length Canadian feature “Hyena Road”, telling the story of a sniper team in Afghanistan—we hear that’s already sold out.

Papas said he had received hundreds of outstanding submissions from countries as far afield as Canada, Iran, Germany, Italy, Israel, Poland, the UK and USA.

“Some of Australia’s brightest young actors and rising star film makers are on the bill too…The idea is to expose the very personal and diverse stories of combatants, veterans, their families and communities including the elderly and asylum seekers, Papas said.

“Red Poppy” award crafted in glass by Annette Blair

“Red Poppy” award crafted in glass by Annette Blair

Papas said the festival would once again present ‘Red Poppy’ awards, magnificent trophies crafted in glass by “Red Poppy” award crafted in glass by Canberra artist Annette Blair, for the Best Australian Film and the Best International Film, as well as a swag of section awards.

At a program launch last night in the War Memorial, AWM director Brendan Nelson said, “Film is a medium through which people can engage with this mission and enhance their understanding of the experience of war. The Veterans’ Film Festival enables audiences to immerse itself in a compelling, thought-provoking, inspiring selection of films.”

“In doing so, each of us is given the opportunity to see and feel the world through the eyes those who have experiences beyond our comprehension. It is also an essential part of the therapeutic milieu for veterans.”

At the launch, RSL national president Rod White said it was an excellent way to shine a light on the countless experiences of war, adding, “Some of the films starred or were made by veterans and show how story-telling can be both powerful and therapeutic.”

a still from "Exit Wounds"

a still from “Exit Wounds”

Former Australian Army medic-turned-actor David Villanti stars in the docu-drama “Exit Wounds”, about his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and there’s an affirmation of the arts in his story.

“I started in community theatre when I was in Karratha (in Western Australia) in my last posting in the military,” Villanti said. “It was a godsend really. It’s so nice to be someone else for an hour or two.”

Veterans Film Festival, at the Australian War Memorial, October 13-15, details and bookings to


Program Highlights of the Veterans Film Festival are as follows:

  • Biography (Israel) – A war widow tries to protect herself from painful memories, and from her aggressive neighbours.
  • Boat People (Germany) – On his journey from Somalia to Europe, shipwrecked Moussa is picked up by a wealthy couple on their luxurious catamaran.
  • Exit Wounds (Australia) – a short dramatised documentary about the resilience of a troubled man who is building a better life through playing other people.
  • Forgotten Hero (Australia) – A veteran returns home and visits the house of a high school sweet heart to find her son fixing his old A Model Ford in the driveway.
  • Hyena Road (Canada) – Three different men, three different worlds, three different wars – all stand at the intersection of modern warfare; a murky world of fluid morality where all is not as it seems.
  • In the Neighbour’s Garden (UK) – In the First World War, two soldiers live out their existence in either boredom or fear, until a chance discovery lifts them away from the trenches.
  • Ozone (Serbia) – In a near future devastated by global nuclear war, Dastagir, one of the few survivors, fights to regain his lost love and rediscover his humanity.
  • Red Line (Iran) – In a desert Neverland a turtle and a lizard unwillingly get involved in a war between two powers.
  • The Camouflage Closet (USA) – a documentary project with that explores how LGBT veterans have been affected by PTSD, trauma, and recovery.
  • The Ravens (Australia) – When young Ruby’s father returns unexpectedly from war, his volatile state makes it difficult for the family to reconnect.








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