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Mountainfilm on Tour brings ‘Blood Road’ Vietnam documentary to Savannah

 

Mountainfilm on Tour brings ‘Blood Road’ Vietnam documentary to Savannah

01 Nov 2017

Movie lovers around these parts are doubtlessly familiar with our local branch of the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. That authorized offshoot, Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah, is a nonprofit formed specifically to bring the touring version of that fabled Colorado city’s annual film festival right to our own doorstep.

The Telluride MountainFilm Festival focuses on the beauty and worth of human adventure, world culture and respect and care for the environment by showcasing some of the most entertaining and accomplished documentary features and shorts from across the globe.

In addition to the annual stop by the festival’s official touring company, the local branch also presents a few standalone screenings throughout the year. The goal? To educate and inspire discourse with “world-class documentaries.”

On Nov. 9 at downtown’s Service Brewing Co., the organization will present its fourth annual Veterans Day event by once more offering an exclusive area showing of a film that focuses not only on outdoor adventure, but also on the challenges faced by military veterans and their friends and family members.

This time around, that film is director Nicholas Schrunk’s just-released “Blood Road,” which follows “ultra-endurance” mountain biker Rebecca Rusch as she travels 1,200 miles along the Ho Chi Minh trail in search of answers to questions surrounding the mysterious death of her father during the Vietnam War.

That journey takes her through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos as she seeks the exact location where her father’s plane went down in 1972. Along the way, Rusch is joined by another female professional cyclist, Huyen Nguyen, who hails from Vietnam. The award-winning film chronicles the rough and dangerous mountain and jungle terrain they must traverse, as well as the people who live along the trail — many of whom made their homes there during the war.

MountainFilm on Tour Savannah’s chairwoman Zelda Tenenbaum describes the movie as delving into a timely subject.

“Our local board saw the connection and opportunity to bring military-themed documentaries to our own military community, and as this year is the 50th anniversary [of the Tet Offensive], we wanted a film that focused on Vietnam. We try to choose films which appeal to general audiences as well as our military viewers.

“This documentary deals with grief and unsettled questions of a child of someone who served in that war. The fact that the child happens to be an endurance biker makes for an amazing story.”

Those who have already seen the film tend to agree. One online reviewer remarked, “Very few docs can grab your soul like this one. In this unforgettable trip you’ll see humanity and evil, compassion and love … and healing. Many beautiful scenes of Vietnam and Laos interweave with historic stories, helping you to see the connections between past and present.”

Leslie Carey, director of MountainFilm on Tour Savannah, says the event will begin with an hour-long reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m., followed by the 96-minute movie, and then close with a panel discussion. Food at the reception will be provided by Vinnie Van Go-Go’s, Kayak Café and Savannah Bee Co., along with soft drinks and Service Brewing craft beer.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet and thank some of the area’s veterans,” Carey says.

Peter Hoffman, a board member of Mountainfilm on Tour in Savannah and director of government affairs and community relations at Armstrong State University, will moderate the closing panel discussion with Col. Patricia Blassie, whose brother was shot down during the Vietnam War. She will speak briefly and then take questions from the audience. Col. Blassie is based at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have her join us for this important discussion on Vietnam,” says Tenenbaum.

“We have a group of Marines coming from their base in Beaufort, S.C., because they want to hear the discussion,” she adds. “While our guests may not have direct connections to this film, they have strong connections to the story that is depicted and to the country itself.”

Tenenbaum credits Hoffman with helping us to grow the relationships between MountainFilm on Tour and area military organizations. “This is a unique situation to Savannah, among other MountainFilm on Tour destinations,” she explains.

It also helps that Service Brewing is owned and run by former U.S. military members.

“Kevin Ryan and Meredith Sutton are two amazing people who have built a wonderful brewing business,” says Tenenbaum. “It is operated by veterans and focused on giving back to the military community. They have an amazing space and are visionary in all that they do with that space.

“When we approached them about using their location for our Veterans Day event, without blinking an eye, they were immediate partners. We are aligned with their unique focus on educating, inspiring and serving the military community, and by bringing the military community to Service Brewing, sharing that focus becomes part of the greater conversation.”

It’s worth noting that while admission to this event is $15 for the public (which is a great value, considering it includes food, drinks, a movie and a discussion), veterans are admitted free of charge.

“We are trying to spread word of this to as many veterans as possible,” says Carey. “Many veterans have already called 912-344-1278 and reserved seats. We’ll continue to take reservations at that number, but we also encourage veterans to just show up.”

“We are planning for 250 attendees,” she enthuses. “And we typically have a full house.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Blood Road”

When: 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9 (film at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: Service Brewing Co., 574 Indian St.

Cost: $15; free to veterans

Info: mountainfilmsav.org, 912-344-1278

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