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Veterans Film Festival Comes to Gateway

Hope Madden Hope Madden Veterans Film Festival Comes to GatewayPhoto still from "Leave No Trace," via IMDb.
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Looking for a more meaningful way to celebrate Veteran’s Day? Get to Gateway Film Center this weekend to honor veterans’ service along with them, and take in some remarkable art at the same time.

“This is an opportunity not just for veterans’ families, but for civilians,” says Columbus VA Creative Arts Coordinator Heather Seymour of the Columbus Veterans Film Festival. “Parades are great, but this is a way to engage and interact and pay thanks.”

The film festival—free for all attendees— runs Saturday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Nov. 11 to coincide with the opening of Columbus’ new National Veterans Memorial and Museum. A partnership with the Columbus Veterans Administration’s Veterans Arts Initiative, the festival offers not just film, but also live performance, panel discussions and opportunities for veterans to connect with VA services.

“A veterans’ film festival is something I’ve wanted to do since joining the film center,” says Alex Davis, Director of Development for Gateway Film Center. “Core to our mission is to bring different groups of people into the film center to be part of what we do here.”

The works featured in the festival look at themes of reintegration into civilian society, PTSD, gender disparity and challenges navigating the healthcare system.

“Each movie is paired with a discussion afterward,” says Seymour. “We hope there are some magic moments, opportunities that maybe come out of discomfort or out of an epiphany: Wow, I’m pausing to think about how this veterans’ issue may affect their lives.”

“There are a lot of different types of art in this festival and I think that’s exciting,” says Davis. “The main event Saturday night is a live performance.”

“Saturday night at 7 p.m. we have a live theater performance by Kevin McClatchy, who is an OSU professor. He is also in the film The Old Man & the Gun with Robert Redford,” explains Seymour.

McClatchy will perform Scrap Heap.

“It’s a play that he wrote, stars in and produces,” she says. “It’s about a Special Forces veteran who seeks to become whole again, and it’s darkly funny. It’s kind of a whiplash tour of his experiences, and it’s inspired by a true story.”

Seymour and Davis are also both excited to share two films directed by women on day two of the festival, the documentary Serve Like a Girl and the narrative feature Leave No Trace.

Alongside the cinema and live performance is local visual art. Fundamental to the work of Veterans Arts Initiative, says Seymour, is the opportunity for veterans to display their own work.

“We have incredibly talented artists,” Seymour says.

For that reason, the work of selected artists will be available for view and sale throughout the festival.

“We really wanted to make sure from the get go that we were featuring local veterans, artists working and living in our community,” says Davis.

You’ll also find sponsor organizations on-site to help veterans find valuable services.

“The event is about engagement,” says Seymour. “Not just with the arts community but also with veterans who maybe have never come to the VA. We’ll have VA representatives, social workers and peer mentors, members of the whole health team who will help in planning if someone wants to talk about their goals to improve their nutrition or weight reduction or increased mobility.”

Seymour is optimistic about the effects the festival can have.

“We hope that it’s both an opportunity for engagement and an opportunity to get connected, not just to the VA but to the rich art community in Columbus,” she says. “I don’t know of any other veteran film festival at this level that is free to veterans and to civilians.”

“A big part of the work of art and this film festival is to bring people together,” Davis says. “That’s what’s so magical and amazing about film: You get to see the world from another person’s perspective.”

The full Veterans Film Festival program:
• Nov. 10, 10 a.m. – Fallen Comrade Ceremony
• Nov. 10, 1 p.m. – THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (2017) with panel
• Nov. 10, 4 p.m. – THE VETERANS PROJECT (2018) with panel
• Nov. 10, 7:15 p.m. – SCRAP HEAP (live performance) with reception and panel
• Nov. 11, 1 p.m. – SERVED LIKE A GIRL (2017) with panel
• Nov. 11, 4 p.m. – LEAVE NO TRACE (2018) with panel

RSVP for free tickets via Eventbrite.

To learn more about the care and services available, please visit www.columbus.va.gov.

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF and listen to her weekly movie review podcast, SCREENING ROOM.

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