2008-05-23 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

'The Face Of War' To Kick Off Film Festival

"Art in the Face of War", David Baugnon's feature documentary film will kick off the 2008 Rockaway Film Festival at Fort Tilden on Saturday, June 7 at 7 p.m. It's a fitting time with Memorial Day celebrations in the air and a fitting venue as well. The film honors the experiences and the work of eight World War II veterans; Victor Dowd, Syd Greenberg, Doug Leigh, Howard Munce, Clark Robinson, Arthur Shilstone, Tracy Sugarman and Ed Vebell.

These eight men, officers and enlisted soldiers alike, served in the Army, Army Air Corps, Marines or Navy and were stationed in many different postings, from Normandy Beach to the Battle of the Bulge to the Pacific Islands to China and Burma. Their one commonality is that before (and after) going to war they were all professional visual or graphic artists.

Some used their artistic skills in the war. Ed Vebell photographed and sketched for the "Stars and Stripes"; Syd Greenberg was an Army photographer attached to the Chinese Nationalist Army; and Victor Dowd and Arthur Shilstone served with the "Deception Corps," units of soldier artists charged with fooling the enemy by creating mock troop and equipment positions and deployments. Artist soldiers or soldier soldiers, they all made personal drawings, photographs, and sketches during the war.

A spokesperson for the upcoming Literary Arts Festival said of the movie, "In the film we see their art works including sketches of men they served with and people they met overseas; drawings and photographs of the battles, campaigns they fought and deaths and executions they witnessed; cartoons they sent home; a Pulitzer Prize nominated war illustration; and paintings they later made from drawings and memory. As we look at these remarkable personal visual documents of their war experiences each man tells us straightforwardly, in the most intimate and honest manner, stories from his life in the war.

"To say that these are moving stories is to grossly understate the measure and the power of these extraordinary personal recollections. War movies are often quite emotive or stirring but no fictional narrative can reach the level of sincere inspiration of this poignant and relevant film. There is a spirit of generosity at play here which perhaps is grown from the wisdom of the veterans' ages, but whatever the reason the direct honesty in the telling of their stories makes you realize that to watch Art in the face of War is to be privileged with a rare gift.

"The impetus for the film was an exhibition of the veterans' artwork, by the same name, shown at the "Carriage Barn Arts Center" in New Canaan, Connecticut curated by Cecelia Barnett, executive producer of the film "Art in the Face of War."

The 2008 Rockaway Film Festival will be held at the Post Theater, Historic Fort Tilden, Gateway National Park on Saturday June 7 and Sunday June 8.

Saturday schedule

7:00 p.m. - 8:14 p.m. Art in the Face of War by David Baugnon. (Documentary account of the experiences of soldier artists in World War II.)

8:20 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. The Kid Stays in the Picture by Brett Morgen.

(Feature: The story of a guy who seduced Hollywood.)

10:05 p.m. - 11:35 p.m. The Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame by Yisrael Lifschutz.

(Documentary: archival and original footage of Jewish athletes in the game.)

Sunday schedule

7:00 p.m. -7:15 p.m. The Other Side of the Street by Kevin Breslin.

(Mini-documentary on Jimmy Breslin's career.)

7:20 p.m. - 8:17 p.m. Dispatch - Bob Sarnoff

(Docudrama: Watch your step. Buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride.)

8:20 p.m. - 8:25 p.m. Musical Chairs by Pamela Popeson.

(Short video: Adults play a kid's game.)

8:30 p.m. - 9:50 p.m. The Limbo Room by Debra Eisenstadt.

(Feature: When an onstage rape scene sparks an off-stage affair - the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred.)

9:51 p.m. - 9:53 p.m. Three Commercials by Josh Coyne.

9:55 p.m. - 10:55 p.m. Hidden in Plain Sight by Mark Street.

(A Vividly Beautiful Exploration of the Urban World from Hanoi to Dakar and from Santiago to Marseilles)

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