‘Red poppy’ international award goes to Canadian film

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A still from Hyena Road, Gross at right.
A still from Hyena Road, Gross at right.

THE 2016 VETERANS Film Festival got off to a cracking start last night at the Australian War Memorial with a screening of the Canadian feature “Hyena Road”, which tells the story of a sniper team in Afghanistan, before a crowd of representatives from the ADF, the War Memorial, the RSL and supporters.

Festival director Tom Papas was introduced by MC, Mike Kelly, to oversee the announcement that the “Red Poppy” award for Best International Film had gone to “Hyena Road” director Paul Gross.

The award, crafted in glass by Canberra artist Annette Blair, was accepted on behalf of Gross by Canadian High Commissioner to Australia and former Canadian Admiral, Paul Maddison.

Mr Maddison described Gross’s visit to Afghanistan where, at Kandahar airfield where much of the film is set, he encountered  Taliban first hand.

The Red Poppy Award
The Red Poppy Award
Gross, who also wrote and featured in the film, lamented in a message of thanks to the festival, that during the   “long engagement in Afghanistan, nobody, including the film-makers, knew anything about it…We must never forget.”

He praised festival director Papas for “embracing and harnessing the power of art.”

Papas has in fact expanded the scope from a short film festival to include more than 30 hand-selected movies, and this year  received hundreds of outstanding submissions from countries as far afield as Canada, Iran, Germany, Italy, Israel, Poland, the UK and USA.

The medal from Military Shop
The medal from Military Shop

All those attending received a special medal crafted just for the festival by The Military Shop.

The festival continues until tomorrow, Oct 15, winding up at 6.30pm in the Australian War Memorial with the full Red Poppy Awards announcements. Tickets $15

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

Other program highlights 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.

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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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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