The RSL National, Veterans Film Festival (VFF) is proud to announce a diverse, thought-provoking and highly entertaining program of films to be screened in Canberra from 18 to 22 October.

The festival puts the spotlight on stories about veterans, their families and the impact warfare has on society,” said Festival Director, Tom Papas “This year’s selection of films depict a broad spectrum of filmmaking styles and storytelling,”

From animated oral history of American ‘Dougboys’ to World War 11 drama’s, every day veteran experiences to accepting LGBTQ family life, and everything in between. The VFF delivers an eclectic program of films.

OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHTS

Opening this year’s festival screening on 18 October is 13 Minutes (German) – Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and starring Christian Friedel, Katharina Schüttler and Burghart Klaußner. In November 1939, Georg Elser’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails, and he is arrested. During his confinement, he recalls the events leading up to his plot and his reasons for deciding to take such drastic action…

The festival’s closing night on 22 October is the Red Poppy Awards, screening the best in competition films from around the world. Hand blown glass trophies will be awarded to 3 film categories: Best Feature Film, Best Australian Short Film and Best International Short Film. This year’s jury panel includes: Former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Francis Leahy AC, Military Historian, Dr Jonathan King and Iranian independent film filmmaker Belal Tehari.

In competition films include: Miro (Australia) Director: Victoria Wharfe McIntye,
Cast: Mark Cole Smith, Dean Krywood, Alexis Lane, War Ball (Iran) Director: Saeed Madadi, She Will Be Loved (USA) Director: Chadwick Pelletier, Cast: Constance Brenneman, DAWN (USA) Director: Joseph Longo Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Nicholas Goldreich, Brandon Burtis, Homeward Bound (Australia) Director: Miles Gibson Cast: Stella Ulm, Max Jelbart, Rowan Kennett


Red Poppy Awards In competition Feature Films

And We Were Young (Animation, USA) – Director by Andy Smetanka and starring Brock Gnose, Kyle McAfee, Roger Hedden, Jeff Medley and Scott Moore. And We Were Young is a stop-motion, silhouette-animation oral history of American soldiers, ‘Doughboys,’ in the last months of the Great War. Missoula, Montana animator Andy Smetanka cut thousands of paper figures and colored backgrounds and filmed them one frame at a time, on a Soviet-era Super 8 camera, over the course of three years to produce a brutal, hauntingly beautiful, and thoroughly original vision of America’s war, narrated entirely in the words of the ones who were there.

The Sand Box (USA) – Director by Jennifer Kramer and starring Sayeed Shahidi and Mark Collier. A young boy struggles to reconnect with his dad who returns from Iraq still haunted by his tour of duty.

Red Poppy Awards In competition Short Films

Miro (Australia)
Director: Victoria Wharfe McIntye Cast: Mark Coles Smith, Dean Krywood, Alexis Lane
Synopsis – When Miro returns home at the end of World War II he finds his land taken, his people gone, his daughter stolen and his service record treated with contempt, but the battlefield has taught him how to fight and he sets out to reunite his family waging his own form of justice.

War Ball (ANIMATION)
Director: Saeed Madadi
Synopsis – A calm violin player, becomes a warrior, just because of a little ball hits him.

She Will Be Loved (USA)
Director: Chadwick Pelletier Cast: Constance Brenneman
Synopsis – A female CIA Officer is on an overseas mission when her convoy is struck by an IED, and she is medevaced as the loan survivor. Upon returning to the U.S., she and her husband struggle to survive the debilitating disorder of wartime PTSD.

DAWN (USA)
Director: Joseph Longo Cast: Barbara Sukowa, Nicholas Goldreich, Brandon Burtis
Synopsis – A young man returns from war after the death of his father to discover more has changed than he anticipated. Raised in a conservative, faith-based home, David is thrown through unexpected turbulence when he discovers his younger brother, James, is gay. Over the course of a single night, David must challenge everything he has been conditioned to believe or risk losing his remaining family in the process.

Homeward Bound (Australia)
Director: Miles Gibson Cast: Stella Ulm, Max Jelbart, Rowan Kennett
Synopsis – Based on a true story, in October of 1917 a young soldier becomes trapped in the notoriously treacherous mud of the Battle of Passchendaele. As he attempts to escape his tragic fate, the young soldier relives moments from his short life in a vain attempt to reforge the choices that had bought him there.

All The WInters I Haven’t Seen (Iran)
Director: Omid Koshnazar Cast: Stella Ulm, Max Jelbart, Rowan Kennett
Synopsis – Based on a true story, in October of 1917 a young soldier becomes trapped in the notoriously treacherous mud of the Battle of Passchendaele. As he attempts to escape his tragic fate, the young soldier relives moments from his short life in a vain attempt to reforge the choices that had bought him there.

A selection of other feature film highlights include

Max & Leon | LA FOLLE HISTOIRE DE MAX ET LÉON (France) – Directed by Jonathan Barré
and starring David Marsais, Grégoire Ludig and Alice Vial. Max and Léon’s adventures, two childhood friends idle and party-goer, who are trying to escape the Second World War.

Talks

A conversation with Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus John Campbell – Screening of Silence is the Accomplice – directed by Lieutenant General Angus John Campbell Silence is the Accomplice is a short film that tells the stories of four very brave serving Army members with family and domestic violence.

War Widows Guild (ACT) in Australia, presents the Veterans Short film program.

Kookaburras (Australia)
Director: David Jenkins Cast: Shirley Percival, Ruth Oliphant
Synopsis – A short documentary film following the commissioning and making of a fused glass window by Canberra glass artist Ruth Oliphant to memorialise women who have been widowed by war, the film allows 4 generations of Australian women, to speak about their experiences (2017).

Her Unlikely Kin (USA)
Director: Kenneth Raimondi Cast: Nick Stevenson, Alexis Santiago, John Castellanos
Synopsis – Sarah Rassi is running out of options. She needs a bone marrow transplant and her only match on the registry is troubled war veteran, Peyton Sinclair. Can Peyton overcome his own battles with PTSD to step up and save Sarah’s life? Her Unlikely Kin tells the story of two strangers, who by rare genetic chance, can offer each other new life.

The After War (USA)
Director: Giorgio Litt Cast: Nikki Deloach, Jentzen Ramirez, James Devoti
Synopsis – The wife of a mentally-ill veteran and her son scrape by in an abandoned rv park, but they can’t escape her worst fear: the return of her husband.

The Passer (IRAN)
Director: Pouri Pishvaei
Synopsis – A squad of soldiers get to a Dead end in a channel under the fire of enemy and they don’t have any way back. They should make a tough decision to be released at the edge of death.

War Ball (ANIMATION)
Director: Saeed Madadi
Synopsis – A calm violin player, becomes a warrior, just because of a little ball hits him.

After The War (RUSSIA)
Director: Georgij Davidov Cast: Filip Matveev-Vitovskij, Roman Elkin
Synposis: It is a story about two soldiers who recently fought on the opposing sides. Now they are destined to come face to face and feel crime and remorse, despair and tears. This is how they realized that the war is ruthless and senseless and decided to leave it together.

The Belief (ANIMATION)
Director: Amir Vahedi
Synopsis: The enemy attacked the country and war began. A pair of Soldier boots was being putting on by a man who are invisible. The boots get ready to go fight against the enemy, but when the boots saw the other fragment boots in the battlefield. They refused to go forward. The man puts off the boots and step forward to the front fighting with the enemy.

Worlds Apart (AUSTRALIA)
Director: Timothy Wade
Synopsis: A World War Two English soldier wakes from a coma to find a mysterious old man sharing his hospital room.

That’s Mine (ANIMATION)
Director: Maryam Kashkoolinia
Synopsis: Contemplative village life, work in the field and children’s games all from the perspective of a landmine. Left in the bush in a war long ago, it awaits its victim with fatal patience.