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Since its 2015 launch as a short film screening series on the hallowed grounds of the Australian War Memorial, the Veterans Film Festival has grown into a feature-film event with strong ties across the military community. In 2018, Festival Director Tom Papas welcomes mental health advocates Beyond Blue and weapons manufacturer CEA Technolgies into VFF alliances, alongside principal partner RSL National and supporters The Australian Defence Force and The Military Shop.

On Thursday November 1, the 4th annual festival launches in the national capital, Canberra, honouring the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War with five features that encompass the breadth of experience that our service men and women undertake to ensure our freedoms… 

JOURNEY’S END (Directed by Saul Dibb; Written by R. C. Sherriff and Simon Reade; U.K.; 107 mins) OPENING NIGHT
Plot: March, 1918. C-company arrives in the front-line trenches of northern France led by the war-weary Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). A German offensive is imminent, and the officers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge) distract themselves in their dugout with talk of their lives back home as Stanhope unable to deal with his dread of the inevitable, soaks his fear in whiskey. A new officer, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), has just arrived, fresh out of training and abuzz with the excitement of his first real posting.
What the critics say…: “Claflin projects pain and heartbreak, and surgically excises Stanhope’s defenses through the film’s third act…a deeply felt catalogue of the behaviors of men who know they’re about to die.” – Chris Packham, The Village Voice.

TRANSMILITARY (Directed by Gabe Silverman and Fiona Dawson;
Written by Jamie Coughlin and Gabe Silverman; USA; 93 mins)
Plot: Chronicles the lives of four individuals - Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace and First Lieutenant El Cook – committed to defending their country’s freedom while also fighting for their own. The four put their careers and livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon, determined to attain equal right to serve. The had the ban lifted in 2016, the group now face an administration trying to reinstate it; their futures hang in the balance, again.
What the critics say…: “[A] persuasive plea for tolerance in an arena where, it seems, the most destructive bigotry is coming from outside.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

SPITFIRE (Directed by David Fairhead and Ant Palmer; U.K.; 99 mins)
Plot: Credited with changing the course of world history, this is the story of the Spitfire – told in the words of the last-surviving combat veterans. With stunning aerial footage from the world’s top aviation photographer, the film also contains rare, digitally re-mastered, archive footage from the tumultuous days of the 1940’s when her power in the skies was unrivalled.
What the critics say…: “The film succeeds in making you understand how these young men saved the country from enemy occupation and how desperately close it was…every one tells a fascinating, often gripping, story.” – Angus Wolfe Murray, Eye For Film.

SGT STUBBY: AN UNLIKELY HERO (Directed by Richard Lanni; Written by Ricahrd Lanni and Mike Stokey; USA; 84 mins)
Plot: With the war to end all wars looming, young army upstart Robert Conroy has his life forever changed when a little dog with a stubby tail wanders into camp of the 102nd Infantry Regiment. Soon, Stubby the dog and his human companions find themselves in the trenches of France and on the path to history. Undertaking an epic journey through harsh conditions and incredible acts of courage. For his valorous actions, Stubby is recognized as the first canine ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant in U.S. Army history.
What the critics say…: “This may be the first cartoon in history designed for this particular overlap of audiences: military buffs and the very, very young.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

ANNA’S WAR (Directed by Aleksey Fedorchenko; Written by Aleksey Fedorchenko and Nataliya Meshchaninova; USSR; 74 mins) CLOSING NIGHT
Plot: Soviet Union, 1941: a Jewish girl regains consciousness under a layer of black earth. Anna is six years old and hides herself in the disused fireplace of the Nazi commandant’s office. From there, she views the war and life passing by, with the threat of discovery constant. Her ingenuity, the items left behind by the slowly alternating visitors and the treasures she discovers in the adjacent rooms help her survive.
What the critics say…: “A remarkable central performance from a six-year-old child carries pretty much the entirety of this nail-biting tale of wartime survival. Marta Kozlova is quietly devastating…The child’s eye view brings a fantastical and sometimes bizarre quality to this lean, urgent story of resourcefulness born of desperation.” – Wendy Ide, Screen Daily.

The 2018 VETERANS FILM FESTIVAL screens November 1-3 at Canberra's Capitol Theatre (An Event Cinemas venue). Full festival schedule and tickets can be found at the events official website.

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