The Festival, now in its fifth year, showcases feature films, documentaries, animation and short films with a war, conflict or veteran theme. Nearly 1,000 submissions were received this year from Australian and international film-makers.
The opening night gala, on 6 November 2019, featured the screening of the very poignant film Cry of Silence, in which a young Russian girl saves a three-year-old from starvation during the Second World War.
Before the screening, the Festival’s Warwick Young OAM welcomed attendees including Mark Donaldson VC, Air Marshal Warren McDonald AM CSC, Head of Joint Capabilities (representing the Chief of Defence Force), Dr Brendan Nelson AO, Director of the Australian War Memorial, Senator Jacqui Lambie, Luke Gosling OAM MP and Brigadier Michael Griffin AM.
Mr Young explained: ‘We provide a platform for veterans who are film-makers and they can make films in any genre. But we also provide a platform for film-makers who make films that deal with veterans’ issues that affect their families or the wider community or the effects of conflict on our world.
‘There’s one caveat for those film-makers that are veterans – you need to do it with respect and you need to get it right, and in our selection criteria we’re always looking for that.’
Dr Nelson also addressed the attendees, thanking organisers and the major sponsor of the festival, Westpac, saying it, ‘should be very proud of what you are doing for veterans, not just with the film festival but a whole spectrum of support that the bank is giving to our veteran community’.
He recalled stories of veterans who felt that what they did was meaningless and wondered whether anyone would remember them after they returned home. He noted that the film festival helps to ensure we protect against these feelings. This festival, and all other veterans’ art, ‘challenges each of us to see the world through the eyes of others’.