The Veterans Film Festival (VFF) will be held in Sydney for the first time next month after the move from Canberra, with the 7th iteration of the event screening more than 20 new and retrospective films, plus the prestigious Red Poppy Awards that come with cash prizes and an engaging program of art, master classes, and script readings.
The Program from November 3rd to 6th was unveiled today by VFF Chief Executive Warwick Young OAM and will range from the celebratory documentary The Skin of Others profiling the life of an extraordinary Aboriginal soldier and journalist Douglas Grant from WWI to modern day trauma and drama in new Australian feature Transfusion starring Sam Worthington as a former Special Forces operative.
Animation, drama, documentary, and retrospective screenings provide a diverse offer to bring the veteran community, their families, and Sydney audiences out in support of the defence community. Historic and contemporary stories in the program range from the Boer War’s Breaker Morant through to representation of current conflict with a film from Ukraine, Life and Death about Russian soldiers sent to fight.
Previously held in Canberra, the new Festival home in Sydney is intended to expand the close association with AFTRS who are partnering with VFF to deliver the new Screen Warriors program supporting veterans in industry training and employment in the film sector.
NSW Minister for Veterans David Elliott said the Festival provided a much-needed opportunity for the public to connect with and support veterans and their families.
“It is wonderful to have the Veterans Film Festival here in New South Wales for the first time. NSW has a rich history of acknowledging the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families. The film festival provides a great opportunity for the community to learn more about veterans and their service and the other skills that veterans possess.” Mr. Elliott said.
New Australian feature Transfusion, starring Sam Worthington and Phoebe Tonkin and written and directed by Matt Nable, who also stars, will screen with the French film War Trap, and the Ari Folman-directed animation feature Where is Anne Frank that reimagines the incredible legacy of her wartime story through her imaginary friend Kitty in modern day Amsterdam. Australian documentary The Healing by Nick Barkla will play alongside Canadian drama feature The Ace and the Scout.
Two strands of short films in the program bring films from all over the world including Iran, Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine, United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Shorts include War Games, Ride Away, The Long River Home, Barrier and from female filmmakers, The Soft-Skinned and Freedom Swimmer which will be complemented by the animations The Sprayer and Balance both from Iran and Ukraine’s Life and Death.
Legendary Australian Director Bruce Beresford Chairs the Jury Panel for the prestigious $20,000 Red Poppy Awards that will include Best Feature and Best short with competition films screening across the festival. Fellow panel members Jenni Baird and Alan Dukes attended the launch where Beresford said the Awards made a significant contribution to encouraging the vital story sharing and ongoing engagement of Veterans with the wider community through the highly accessible medium of film.
“The experience of conflict is reserved for the few and brave in our midst but their efforts on behalf of all of us and their experiences, for veterans and their families, are something we can all access through film,” he said.
Beresford’s film Paradise Road, starring Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close and Frances McDormand will mark its 25-year anniversary with a screening of the powerful World War II feature based on the true story of women prisoners in Sumatra. The festival retrospective section will also feature Breaker Morant and the celebrated Ladies in Black alongside Bill Bennett’s A Street to Die featuring Chris Haywood who attended the Festival launch.
The three-day, four-night festival is presented at Hoyts Cinema EQ and AFTRS located next door, with an Art Exhibition of work from veteran artists and photographers, including Mike Armstrong and work from his recent Voices of Veterans national touring exhibition and the Persona exhibition opening soon at the Australian National Veterans Art Museum (ANVAM). In a special script reading event David Elfick’s new World War II feature Kamarada, set to be shot with Phillip Noyce in Timor-Leste, will receive a special presentation reading.
About Veterans Film Festival
The Veterans Film Festival aims to be Australia’s premier international film festival devoted to screening films about, for, and by veterans, with sidebar events such as masterclasses, Q&As, workshops, art exhibitions, and performances.
Through the new Screen Warriors program, the Veterans Film Festival will provide skills training,
placement opportunities, scholarships as well as project development within the screen industry. By these means it will broaden the diversity and inclusiveness of the Australian screen industry whilst simultaneously supporting and improving the lives of veterans and their families.
Their Excellencies General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the
Commonwealth of Australia and Mrs Linda Hurley are VFF Patrons.