Staff File Photo/Paul Franz
Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the final American ground combat forces leaving Vietnam for the United States, serving as the beginning of the end of the controversial war. A cease-fire was reached in 1973 and the conflict formally concluded two years later.
In commemoration of the Aug. 11, 1972, event that set in motion a full withdrawal, several groups of local Vietnam War veterans are sponsoring a film festival at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas. Starting Aug. 4, each Thursday this month the Main Street theater will show an acclaimed film about the Vietnam experience. The films will be “We Were Soldiers,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “The Deer Hunter” and “Platoon.” All films, which start at 7 p.m., are free and open to the public.
The film series is co-sponsored by Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 and Orange American Legion Post 172. Rolling Thunder will have chapters from across Vermont and New Hampshire at the theater with a flag line on opening night. Veterans on other nights will partner with The People’s Pint for a beer tasting in the theater lobby featuring, among others, the Building Bridges IPA.
“The best movies about Vietnam have not yet been made. Sam Mendes, who directed the 2019 film ‘1917,’ did it as a tribute to his paternal grandfather. Steven Spielberg was inspired by his father’s World War II service to make ‘Saving Private Ryan,’” said Garden Cinemas co-owner Isaac Mass, an Army National Guard veteran. “We want to provide an opportunity for Vietnam veterans to start telling their children and grandchildren about their experiences, so when they direct films, we will see an entirely different perspective.”
Jeffrey Neipp, Rolling Thunder Vermont Chapter 1 president, said Mass emailed him a few months ago to suggest a veterans-sponsored film festival.
“We’re always trying to help vets in the area, bring awareness to the POW/MIAs that still exist from Vietnam,” Neipp said in a phone interview Wednesday, adding that there are 1,584 Americans unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. “I think it’s a great idea. We’re going to be there tomorrow and welcome any vets that show up … and their guests.”
Alden Booth, owner of The People’s Pint, said Mass made arrangements with employee Chris Gilbert for the business to participate.
“I’m thrilled we’re doing it,” Booth said.
In the spring, The People’s Pint joined forces with the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative to create Building Bridges IPA, a New England-style India pale ale with citrus notes. Booth said his restaurant donates 50 cents to Building Bridges Veterans Initiative — which provides comfortable spaces for veterans to gather for free lunches at local veterans clubs and lodges — for every pint of the beer purchased at the bar and proceeds from the sale of cans help buy meals for veterans.
“This program is working out really great. We’re getting ready to make a donation of almost $1,500 to Building Bridges,” Booth said.
■Aug. 4 — “We Were Soldiers” is a 2002 film starring Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear and Sam Elliott. The film dramatizes the Nov. 14, 1965, Battle of Ia Drang.
■Aug. 11 — “Full Metal Jacket,” directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1987, stars Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin. It follows a group of Marines from Parris Island through DaNang during the Tet Offensive.
■Aug. 18 — “The Deer Hunter,” made in 1978, features Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep and John Cazale. The film follows a group of working-class Slavic-American friends through their experience as prisoners of war and their later struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
■Aug. 25 — “Platoon” is a 1986 film written and directed by Vietnam War veteran Oliver Stone. It stars Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker and Kevin Dillon. The semi-autobiographical film follows the 25th Infantry Division assigned to the Cambodian border.
Reach Domenic Poli at: firstname.lastname@example.org or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.
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