Torchlight Program Presents Series

The College of Motion Picture Arts is dedicated to enriching the area’s cultural experience by bringing exceptional and unique cinema events to Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. Through our Torchlight Program, we are able to expose local film lovers to films, industry speakers and other guests they would not normally see in North Florida.

With the “Torchlight Program Presents…” series, we comb through the country’s most prestigious film festivals (Tribeca Film Festival, Sundance, the Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival) to find powerful and unique films, and filmmakers who are breaking the Hollywood mold and pushing the boundaries of traditional cinema. Several of the films that the Torchlight Program has presented over the years have gone on to win accolades and awards around the world.

In what was formerly known as the “Veterans Film Festival,” now a permanent part of the series, Torchlight has played a principal role by securing films such as The Hornet’s Nest, Apache Warrior, Citizen Soldier and Last Days In Vietnam, and bringing in guests like Rory Kennedy, Sebastian Junger and David Salzberg & Christian Tureaud. Our seven-year collaboration with the Student Veterans Center, Veterans Student Union, the Office of the President and others focuses attention on the experiences of our veterans, both on campus and off, by telling their stories on the big screen.

A signature event of the fall semester, this screening in celebration of Veterans Day encapsulates the shared vision and commitment by Florida State to become the most veteran-friendly and veteran-empowering university in the country.

Our 2018 Screening

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress

Directed by William Wyler

Legendary Hollywood director, William Wyler

In February of 1943, Major William Wyler went up in a B-17, 16mm camera in hand, on his first combat mission over Bremen with the Ninety-First Bomber Group. On this and the missions that followed, the Hollywood master, then at the height of his career, braved freezing and perilous conditions to get the images he needed, saw his sound man perish on a return trip from a raid over Brest, and refused an order to stop flying combat missions issued by his superiors, worried that he would be taken prisoner in Germany and identified as the Jewish director of Mrs. Miniver. The final result was The Memphis Belle, one of the greatest of the WWII combat documentaries, and it has now been meticulously and painstakingly restored in high definition 4K.

One frame from the restored footage

Please join us at the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall for the momentus exhibtion of this historical film on Friday, November 9th starting with a reception at 4:30 pm and the screening at 6:00 pm . Additionally, the program will show the student short documentary by BFA film student Royce Marnell, “Red, White & Navy” as well as a very special film that will be introduced for the first time that evening.

Special guest, Catherine Wyler (the late William Wyler’s daughter) will particiapte in an open discussion and Q&A about the film and her father’s work following the screenings.

The crew of B-17 bomber The Memphis Belle

This event if FREE and open to the public.

Free parking available at Westcott South, Lower Westcott North, Turnbull Garage and Call Street garage

For more details call 850-644-8712.

Previous Screenings

From left to right: Paul Cohen, Director Danfung Dennis, FSU President Eric Barron, Sgt. Nathan Harris, Ashley Harris, Jared Lyon

Hell and Back Again

Directed by Danfung Dennis

Honoring Student Veterans and Director Danfung Dennis, Sergeant Nathan Harris and wife Ashley in the Academy Award nominated documentary Hell and Back Again.

Special Film Screening at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall November 11th, 2011.

This one of a kind event was sponsored on Veterans Day by the Collegiate Veterans Association, the College of Motion Picture Arts, the Interfraternity Council and Group Interactive Networks, and included students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and community members to educate, raise awareness and gather support for the Florida State’s Veteran initiatives.

The College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Program Director Paul Cohen invited special guests Director Danfung Dennis, Producer Karol Martesko, Sergeant Nathan Harris and wife Ashley to Florida State University for a special Veterans Day press conference and screening of their documentary Hell and Back Again, followed by a Q&A. They were also invited onto the field to be honored during the FSU vs. Miami game.

What is it like to lead men in the heart of a war? What is it like to come home after the chaos? Perhaps we never would have known without photojournalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis’s daring trek into Afghanistan to capture the true life of a leader; Dennis put himself on the front line with just a video camera and a slim bulletproof vest to showcase the skills and vigor of Sergeant Nathan Harris. However the story continues when Harris is sent home just weeks before his mission ends, with a bullet in his hip.

Hell and Back Again seamlessly transitions from stunning war reportage to an intimate, visceral portrait of one man’s personal struggle at home in North Carolina, where Harris confronts the physical and emotional difficulties of re-adjusting to civilian life with the love and support of his wife, Ashley. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Cinematography Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Hell and Back Again takes you into a world that only valiant war veterans have experienced.

Director Kirby Dick during the post The Invisible War Q&A

The Invisible War

Directed by Kirby Dick

Honoring Student Veterans and Director Kirby Dick, Producer Amy Ziering, Army Sergeant Myla Haider, and Attorney Susan L. Burke in the Academy Award nominated documentary The Invisible War.

Special Film Screening at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall November 11th, 2012.

The 2nd annual Student Veteran Film Festival at Florida State University brings Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick and his critically acclaimed film The Invisible War to campus November 12th. This groundbreaking documentary sheds light on Military Sexual Trauma within the U.S. military, the men and women who have been victims, and their fight to combat the problem. MST survivors will join Kirby Dick after the film for an in-depth discussion of this sensitive and important topic. The film festival is a student initiative that harnesses the power of film to raise awareness of the issues and transitions facing today’s veterans. Find out more at

From left to right: Paul Cohen, Nick Collier, Student Veteran Ryan Taylor, Director Sebastian Junger, Frank Patterson

Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington

Directed by Sebastian Junger

Honoring Student Veterans and Director Sebastian Junger for the documentary Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington.

Special Film Screening at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall November 11th, 2013.

Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington is a documentary about deceased photojournalist Tim Hetherington directed by Sebastian Junger. Together with his friend and long-term collaborator Sebastian, Tim had travelled the world documenting conflicts in Afghanistan, Liberia and Libya among other locations. Best known for their 2010 film Restrepo which was nominated for an Academy Award, the two strived to capture the humanity within conflict situations and with their images they focused on the individuals involved and their experiences of the violence surrounding them. Unfortunately, in 2011 Tim was killed by a mortar blast and this film is a tribute and celebration of the legacy he has left behind and includes Sebastian conducting interviews with those who knew Tim best.

Rory Kennedy speaks with the media at the 2014 Student Veteran Film Festival

Last Days in Vietnam

Directed by Rory Kennedy

November 11, 2014: for the 4th year of the annual Student Veteran Film Festival (SVFF), Florida State University welcomed award-winning documentarian Rory Kennedy and her critically acclaimed documentary Last Days In Vietnam. Rory was presented with the FSU Student Veteran Torchlight Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking, accompanied with a $25,000 dollar honorarium for illuminating issues affecting veterans returning from their service.

The film, which captures the thrilling account of United States service members evacuating their South Vietnamese colleagues and friends during the closing days of the Vietnam War, was preceded by a discussion with Kennedy. Daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, Rory is an Emmy Award-winning independent documentary filmmaker as well as cofounder and president of Moxie Firecracker Films. Her films cover an array of issues ranging from poverty to politics to human rights and have been shown on HBO, A&E, MTV, Lifetime and PBS.

“Florida State is committed to becoming the most veteran-friendly university in the nation, and recognizing filmmakers who document topics related to the military is another way we raise awareness and pay tribute to our veterans,” said Interim President Garnett S. Stokes at the presentation. “We are pleased to honor Rory Kennedy with this award for her enthralling story about the final days of the Vietnam War.”

Paul Cohen, the Executive Director of the Torchlight Program at FSU, has curated this initiative created by the Collegiate Veterans Association. Mr. Cohen strives to merge his independent film industry background with educational opportunities at the university to expand learning opportunities through cinema.

The festival has brought a number of award-winning films to FSU, including Hell and Back Again directed by Danfung Dennis in 2011 and The Invisible War directed by Kirby Dick in 2012. Sebastian Junger was presented the festival award in 2013 for his documentary, Which Way Is The Front Line From Here? The Life And Time of Tim Hetherington. This year Rory Kennedy was the recipient of the award.

The education and awareness that this event has been able to cultivate for issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma has been both significant and impactful. The nature of these documentary films show that our student veterans are not afraid of engaging in difficult conversations and are serious about creating real, meaningful, change.

The Collegiate Veterans Association at FSU is one of the most highly regarded student veteran groups in the nation. The university, the administration, and the student body have joined together in an effort to make FSU one of the most veteran friendly public universities in the U.S.

Rights were secured to this year’s film from The American Experience Films and PBS. The film will make its broadcast debut April 28, 2015 on PBS.

From right to left: Christian Tureaud, Paul Cohen, and David Salzberg

The Hornet’s Nest

Directed by David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud

A stunning 5th year of the annual FSU Student Veteran Film Festival (SVFF), began with a warm welcome to directors, David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud and their feature length documentary, The Hornet’s Nest.

The screening at the Ruby Diamond Auditorium was resplendent as was the Student Veteran Torchlight Award presentation, complete with an honorarium of $25,000 by FSU President John Thrasher and our distinguished student veterans in recognition of this heartfelt cinematic work.

Paul Cohen, Executive Director of the Torchlight Program at FSU, invited Salzberg and Tureaud on stage following the screening for an emotional and insightful Q&A discussing cinema’s ability to tell important stories surrounding issues affecting our returning veterans from their service.

The SVFF is an annual part of Florida State University’s campus-wide commitment to become a national beacon of veteran support and success.

Directors David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud with FSU president and veteran John Thrasher and Torchlight Program Executive Director Paul Cohen

Citizen Soldier

Directed by David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud

David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud returned for the 6th annual Veterans Film Festival with Citizen Soldier.

Citizen Soldier focuses on America’s national guard men and women, illuminating their service to our country in foreign lands. The film also highlights the very important, often less-publicized role that women play in active combat. Mr. Salzberg and Mr. Tureaud have been focusing on the important role of women in the armed forces in their storytelling. The film shares that the national guard is not trained for the length of time and extent that our mobilized services are. The story is powerful and emphasizes the courage and heroism of our neighbors and friends.

After the film, the directors engaged in a conversation about their filmmaking process. They explained that it’s difficult to ask families of national guard men and women what they think, but the answer is always emotional and enlightening.

Dean Reb Braddock moderating the press conference between directors David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud and Torchlight Program Executive Director Paul Cohen

Apache Warrior

Directed by David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud

For a third year in a row, David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud were the distinguished guests at the Veteran Film Festival. This 7th annual festival served as the world premiere of their latest film Apache Warrior.

Apache Warrior shows the experience of being on an Apache attack helicopter first hand. The film is a story of brave dedication to bring a wounded brother home, even through desperate measures. Mr. Salzberg and Mr. Tureaud achieved this through a thoughtful combination of interviews and authentic audio and video from the cockpit.

After the film, the directors and the audience had a dialogue about the role of technology in compelling filmmaking. The latest technology can be utilized to tell dramatic and powerful stories. Mr. Salzberg and Mr. Tureaud also discussed their process and acknowledged their respect and commitment to FSU’s Student Veteran Organization.