Since 2011, the Florida State University Veterans Film Festival has raised awareness of veterans’ issues and garnered support for veteran-related initiatives at Florida State University. The 2017 Festival featured the world premiere of the documentary Apache Warrior, immediately followed by a Q&A with the directors. Created with actual footage from attack-gun tapes, combat cameras and unscripted interviews, Apache Warrior highlights the adaptability, courage and selflessness of Apache attack helicopter pilots and their crews during the opening of one of the largest invasions in U.S. history.
Apache Warrior co-directors David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud researched hundreds of hours of footage from the initial surge into Iraq in March 2003. “The audience will feel the chaos and horrors of air combat and, in the process, witness real valor under the most hellish of conditions,” Tureaud said. Salzberg and Tureaud were also honored with FSU’s annual Student Veterans Torchlight Award for Outstanding Filmmaking for the third consecutive year. The pair was honored with the same award for their documentaries, “The Hornet’s Nest” (2015) and “Citizen Solider” (2016).
The films screened with the Veterans Film Festival are selected and brought to campus by Paul Cohen, executive director of the College of Motion Picture Arts’ Torchlight Program. “The College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Program is honored to welcome back these two devoted filmmakers David Salzberg and Christian Turead to FSU for the world premiere of ‘Apache Warrior,’” Cohen said. “Our relationship in supporting their filmmaking these past years and being the first to present their newest documentary has illuminated the FSU Veterans Film Festival’s position among contemporary filmmakers.”
“Homefront,” a short student documentary directed by Cameron Dingee (BFA ’19) also screened as part of the Veterans Film Festival. In “Homefront,” Linda Dingee, Cameron’s grandmother, and the wife of a POW during the Vietnam War, recounts her experience of the war from home. “I grew up listening to all of these awe-inspiring stories of my grandfather’s time during the Vietnam War and his time as a POW from different family members,” Dingee said. “Without his firsthand accounts, I feared it would be impractical to retell his story. Then I realized that my grandmother had her own set of experiences during my grandfather’s internment which are equally important.”
Though creating a documentary about his own family history felt comfortable it also imbued in the student filmmaker a sense of responsibility about creating an accurate retelling of his grandparents’ experiences. Dingee was pleased to have his film featured at the Veterans Film Festival alongside Apache Warrior and feels his film added to the festival by providing a glimpse of the effects that soldiers’ experiences have on their families.