When filmmakers David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud share their groundbreaking documentary “The Hornet’s Nest,” one theme consistently resonates with audiences — the brotherhood between the soldiers in the film.
The co-directors screened their film at the fifth annual Student Veteran Film Festival Monday, Nov. 9, at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.
“The brotherhood was something that just jumped off the screen to us,” Tureaud said. “We didn’t try to make that —it’s just who (military veterans) are. That’s important for the American public to see, we believe.”
The brotherhood is also what struck Florida State student-veterans when they were selecting the marquee film for the festival.
“Unlike a lot of other movies that I had seen, there was one really deep, core aspect,” said Kevin Pierce, director of the FSU Veterans Student Union. “It was the brotherhood. You see that throughout the movie —they would go with each other into the fray. That, to me, stood out predominately in the entire film —the camaraderie, the brotherhood. That’s something not a lot of films can truly show.”
The film is a groundbreaking documentary that uses unprecedented combat footage to tell the story of an elite group of U.S. troops sent on a dangerous mission deep inside one of Afghanistan’smost hostile valleys.
“We want to show the heart of the American soldier and what they do, because the public doesn’t really understand it,” Salzberg said.
Salzberg and Tureaud worked with Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Mike Boettcher and his son, Carlos, who were provided unprecedented access in August 2008 when they were first embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The war is now the longest in U.S. history.
“This film is more than a film,” Tureaud said. “It has helped people. It has helped soldiers and their families. It’s helped Gold Star families cope. It’s been called digital medicine.”
Salzberg and Tureaud received Florida State University’s Student Veteran Torchlight Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking before the screening Monday night.
“We’ve had the honor of going to many universities and we’ve screened this film over 200 times across the country during the last year,” Tureaud said. “I can say, by far, this is the most impressive campus. The family environment you have at this university —we’ve never seen anything like it. We’re blown away. Thank you from both of us.”
The Torchlight Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, is given annually to a selected filmmaker who illuminates issues affecting veterans.
President John Thrasher joined Paul Cohen, executive director of the Torchlight Program, Daniel Foxworth, president of the FSU Collegiate Veterans Association, and Pierce in presenting Salzberg and Tureaud with the Torchlight Award.
“The Student Veteran Film Festival is truly a unique event,” Thrasher said. “For five years now, we have brought acclaimed filmmakers to campus to feature their work. In doing so, the film festival helps highlight our commitment to becoming the most veteran-friendly university in the nation.”
The festival is a one-of-a-kind event with a mission to raise awareness of student-veterans’ issues and bridge the gap between veterans and the community.
“The concept of cinema being powerful and being evocative and shedding the spotlight on issues, and being able to create change and lead to a better world is remarkable,” Cohen said. “(‘The Hornet’s Nest’) is a bridge between the audience today and the veterans who have served on the ground.”
The film festival is generating a growing respect within the film industry nationally. Each of the festival’s first four films has been nominated for numerous awards, including Academy Awards.
The previous marquee films were Hell and Back Again” (2011); “The Invisible War” (2012); “Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” (2013); and “Last Days in Vietnam” (2014).
The Student Veteran Film Festival is produced by theFSU Collegiate Veterans Association,Veterans Student Union, Student Veterans Center, Interfraternity Council,Panhellenic Association, Student Government Association and the College of Motion Picture Arts.