Veterans Film Festival (VFF) presents an annual festival focusing on recent work by veterans or films made with veterans’ themes. The festival program also includes workshops, exhibitions and special events. The festival is held in Sydney and is an important platform for promoting artists and media makers from Australia and around the world.
The Veterans Festival
Within our festival program, VFF also presents mainstream films, gala premieres, retrospectives, and themed screenings, as well as crowd-pleasing events including workshops, discussions, exhibitions, and provides opportunities to meet with veterans, filmmakers and content creators via Q&As, panels, and more.
All films submitted in the official competition will be eligible to compete for the coveted Red Poppy Awards, inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Field’. Previous highlights include:
- Four Australian premieres
- Transmilitary won the Red Poppy Award for Best Feature Film
- 53% of films selected to screen had a female filmmaker in a leading role (Producer, Director, Writer Cinematographer, Editor or Lead Actor)
- Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman, won the Red Poppy Award for Best Feature Film
- 57% of films selected to screen had a female filmmaker in a leading role (Producer, Director, Writer Cinematographer, Editor or Lead Actor).
- Female filmmakers won 67% of all the awards at our Red Poppy Awards Ceremony.
Veterans Film Festival is a not-for-profit organisation with a year-round committee and organising team.
Warwick Young OAM, President
A veteran himself, Warwick is an award-winning filmmaker who continues to serve as a part-time officer in the Australian Army, and was appointed by the Governor General to the Veterans’ Review Board in 2008.
In 2013 Warwick completed his Masters in Directing at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). In 2014 he was then enlisted to assist the ADF in the design and delivery of the Australian Defence Force Theatre Project, a joint venture between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Sydney Theatre Company. Then, in 2015 he was instrumental in the design and delivery of the ADF ARRTS program, an arts therapy program for injured and ill members of the ADF, using drama, music, visual arts, and creative writing as mediums for recovery.
Glen Ferrarotto, Vice President
Glen is the Founder and Director of Australia’s Leading Recruitment Agency for veterans, Ironside Recruitment, and is himself a veteran of the Afghanistan War. Glen was honored as Australia’s Most Outstanding Contributor to Veteran Employment by the then-Prime Minister The Hon Malcolm Turnbull. He has a deep connection with current and former serving Defence Force personnel. Glen is a Board Member of the Victorian RSL State Executive and is well regarded across business, defence and government networks.
Annie Parnell, Festival Director
Appointed in 2021, Annie’s background across film festival management, programming and direction complements her former career in social work and community education and training. She brings a wealth of experience to the role, drawing from positions held with Flickerfest, Tropfest, the National Film and Sound Archive, Dungog Festival, and with production companies making content such as Water Rats, Pulse, The Circuit S1, Wolverine and many others.
Tom Papas, Founder
Tom has over 21 years’ experience in creative design, project management, stakeholder engagement in arts and media organisations, and was Festival Director from 2016-2020.
His expertise in various aspects of festival management include the development and implementation of strategic plan to operations and risk management systems, administration, programming, graphic designing, marketing, event and media management and everything from formatting files and editing to writing print and online articles.
Tom’s time as festival director is filled with highlights, introducing many screen and digital media initiatives that engaged thousands of people, from short film competitions to global film challenges that raise awareness, provoke and inspire social change with key stakeholders. He combines film programming with other art forms and introduced numerous special focus strands from new media screenings to educational programs.
Alison Creagh CSC
Alison chairs the ACT Veterans’ Advisory Council, the Board of Governors for The Road Home and The Hospital Research Foundation ICT and Cyber Security Committee. She is a Non-executive Director of The Hospital Research Foundation, an ACT Defence Ambassador and member of the ACT Defence Industry Advisory Board, a member of the AustCyber Canberra Node Industry Advisory Group and Strategic Adviser for the University of NSW Defence Research Institute. Brigadier Creagh is the Representative Colonel Commandant for the Royal Australian Corps of Signals. Brigadier Creagh retired from the Australian Regular Army in March 2015 after a 30-year career and continues to serve in the Army Reserve. She served on operations in Cambodia East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Stephen has more than 32 years’ experience in film, television and interactive media as a cinematographer, commercial director, web designer and creative director. Currently Stephen is the Creative Director for inktoscreen.com, which is a film development business.