The Florida State University Veterans Film Festival hosted its first-ever world premiere as filmmakers David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud debuted their film, “Apache Warrior,” at the seventh annual event Thursday night.
The co-directors received the FSU Student Veteran Torchlight Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking before screening their film at Florida State University’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall.
“What FSU is collectively doing as a veteran-friendly university is amazing and, coincidentally, we have these incredible stories,” Salzberg said. “We all come together as one to make a difference. If we help one person at the event — one person — we did something bigger than ourselves. That’s what service is about.”
Tureaud said he wasn’t nervous about showing the film to the public for the first time, especially at Florida State.
“There’s something special about FSU and this extended family you have here,” Tureaud said. “We’re excited to show this here because it is such great community, and our films have been so well received here.”
“Apache Warrior” takes the audience into the cockpits of a squadron of Apache attack helicopters during the opening of one of the largest invasions in U.S. history. The film was produced with actual flight-combat footage and attack-gun tapes taken from multiple cameras.
Documenting the initial surge into Iraq in March 2003, the film highlights the adaptability, courage and selflessness of the Apache pilots and their crews during this “deep attack” mission.
“This is an unbelievable story about attack Apache helicopter pilots,” Tureaud said. “They’re a rare breed.”
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.
“It’s a pleasure to have Christian and David back as our guests for the Florida State University Veterans Film Festival, and we’re thrilled they chose this venue for their latest film’s world premiere,” said President John Thrasher. “These two filmmakers have made it their mission to honor our military personnel by showing them as they are — real people and real heroes.”
Paul Cohen, executive director of the College of Motion Picture Arts’ Torchlight Program who secured the rights to this year’s film, said the festival has really grown and matured over its seven-year run.
“It is contemporarily being spoken about among filmmakers around the country,” Cohen said. “I think one of the key examples of that is it’s the first time we have had a world premiere — and the directors held off releasing the film in order to screen it first at this festival.”
This year’s event kicked off with a short film directed by a second-year Bachelor of Fine Arts student from FSU College of Motion Picture Arts. Cameron Dingee’s “Homefront” tells the story of his grandfather’s service as an Air Force pilot during the Vietnam War through interviews with Dingee’s grandmother.
“It’s through the power of cinema that we’re able to bring people together, change their perceptions and provide a unique catharsis that reminds us no matter how different we may seem, we are all bonded together in the struggle of the human journey,” said Reb Braddock, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts.
Salzberg and Tureaud were 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 marquee films of the previous six festivals have been nominated for numerous awards, including Academy Awards. In addition to “Citizen Solider” and “The Hornet’s Nest,” 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).