Florida State University’s yearly screening of a film connected to Veterans’ Day is coming up this Thursday evening (11/7). This year’s event will differ from its predecessors in many ways.
For all the details, we went right to the source:
“My name is Paul Cohen. I am the director of the Torchlight Cinematheque at the College of Motion Picture Arts and a faculty member at the Film School.”
Cohen has been involved with the Veterans’ film screenings since the very beginning.
“I was walking by my dean’s office about 10 years ago and he said, ‘Come in a minute, Paul. I want to introduce you to some young students and those two students were veterans who had decided that they wanted to start a film festival to spread the voice of the types of engagement they encountered and educate the public through cinema to understand a bit more about where they came from and what they did.”
Cohen recalled that year’s featured film, which began a tradition of top-notch cinematic offerings.
“I had just been with a producer friend who produced a film entitled ‘Hell and Back,’ which ultimately went on to be nominated for an Academy Award. But we were one of the first showcased presentations for that film.”
This year’s movie, said Cohen, is a ground-breaker in a number of ways.
“It’s based on a number-one best-selling book, ‘South of Heaven’ that was written by one of our attending guests, Daniel Flores. It describes the years he was deployed in one of the most dangerous places; they say it’s one of the most shot-on piece of land in the world in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.”
Adding the actual footage was essentially shot live by on-the-scene military personnel as it happened, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “cinema verite.”
“So you’ll get an opportunity to see footage that was shot from body cameras and from Go Pros. This is all new technology being used in documentary film making now because it’s portable, micro and accessible.”
But this is not simply a raw visual portrayal of what happened on the battlefield.
“The unfolding of the story that the film makers, David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud have done make it a very beautiful experience in terms of cinema.”
The result Cohen said is profound drama that’s as timely as today’s headlines.
“It’s an immersive experience, a real-life video game experience. You’re flying with the pilots and on the ground with the troops they have been sent to protect. This is about ‘Above the Ground; Above the Best’ a term the Army air pilots use to describe their men on the ground.”
For the first time, Cohen said the event will take place off campus.
“We’re in the large theatre at the (Fallschase) CMX,” he pointed out. “That venue has become an associate with the film school and we want to do more and more shows, principally because Dean Reb Braddock believes that it’s more of a festival atmosphere if we do it at a commercial theatre with the smell of the popcorn and the multi-screen, big sound with a big, big screen.”
All to bring in the biggest possible audience of veterans, film buffs and anyone who wants to take in an exciting, moving documentary of America’s armed forces at work.
“Perhaps more of the community will feel comfortable in attending. We’ve made it later in the day. It’s a 7 p.m. screening on Thursday, November 7th, so it’s ‘7 at 7,’ We are complimenting everyone on tickets, so there are no tickets required. Just come and we’ll put a band on your arm and you can enjoy the film and a Q and A with our guests.”
That panel will include the movie’s co-director David Salzberg. The evening is being presented by the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Cinematheque in association with the university’s Veterans Alliance.