During these past four years I have been asked to provide the curation for this initiative, on behalf of the College Of Motion Picture Arts, in support of
our Student Veterans the annual featured motion picture presentation. This initiative provides a platform, utilizing cinema to engage conversation
surrounding issues facing our student veterans returning from their service. The Collegiate Veterans Association leaders created the concept for this
festival. As the Executive Director of the Florida State University College of Motion Picture ArtsTorchlight Program, and Faculty Executive Producer to the
FSU SVFF, I have been able to merge my independent film industry background with educational opportunities at the University with the vision of expanding
learning opportunities through cinema.
In year one the film selected to present was ”Hell and Back Again”, directed by Danfung Dennis, which went on to be nominated for an Oscar in 2011. Year
two the SVFF presented “The Invisible War”, directed by Kirby Dick, which also went on to be nominated, this time, for the Oscar in 2012. In November 2013
we presented Sebastian Junger with the FSU Student Veteran Torchlight Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking for his documentary, “Which Way Is
The Front Line From Here? The Life And Time of Tim Hetherington“. This year Rory Kennedy with her documentary will be the recipient of our 2014 award.
The Collegiate Veterans Association at Florida State University is one of the most universally known and well-respected student veteran groups in the
nation. The university, the administration, and the student body have joined together in an effort to make Florida State University one of the most veteran
friendly public universities, in the nation. Inherent in this goal is our effort to raise awareness and promote veteran’s issues. The Student Veteran Film
Festival is one of our primary vehicles for achieving these goals.
nationally. This event has a proud tradition of elegance, prestige, and creation of intense dialogue between filmmakers, students, and veterans.
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 inaugural event showcased the film ”Hell and Back Again” The nature of these films show that our student veterans
are not afraid of engaging in difficult conversations and are serious about impacting real, meaningful, change.
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, will be followed by a discussion with Kennedy.
Kennedy, daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, 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
Kennedy also will receive the “FSU Student Veteran Torchlight Award for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking” following the screening of the film. The
award, which comes with a $25,000 honorarium, is presented annually to a filmmaker who illuminates issues affecting veterans returning from their service.
“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. “We are pleased to honor Rory
Kennedy with this award for her enthralling story about the final days of the Vietnam War.”
The film festival is intended to raise awareness of student-veterans’ issues and bridge the gap between veterans and the community.
As executive director of the College of Motion Picture Arts’ Torchlight Program, I secured the rights to this year’s film from The American
Experience Films and PBS. The film will make its broadcast debut April 28, 2015 on PBS.
The Student Veteran Film Festival and its Student Veteran Torchlight Award is attracting national film industry attention, which resonates on the
university’s commitment and dedication to our student veterans.