Military Panels at Happy New Year

Remember when we mentioned the Festival was looking for veterans to do something special during the Happy New Year screening? It has come together. Two panels are being convened, one after each showing of the film, to discuss the services provided for veterans after they return from war.

“We’re very exciting the Festival worked to get this together,” says star Michael Cuomo.

The panel convening after the 5:30pm screening Tuesday will include:

-Dr. Richard Swier, President of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission
-Linda Craig, Executive Director of Manasota Operation Troop Support
-Christopher Neloms, 2-tour Veteran, Veteran Mentor with the Manasota Operation Troop Support

After the 6pm screening Wednesday, a panel will include:

-Andy Hooker, Vice President of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission, Vietnam Veteran
-Corinne McClung, young female coast guard veteran, knows many Iraq and Afghanistan vets in the community.

Thanks to the Film Festival office for letting us know.

Happy New Year, a narrative feature, follows an Iraq war veteran who comes back home and needs support from older soliders in the mental health wing of a veterans hospital. Filmmakers say the film is not intended to debate the merits of the war, but to explore the needs of soldiers who come back from the fight.

Director K. Lorrel Manning says he was inspired after meeting a soldier who returned home and became a cop, despite having no prior interest in law enforcement. After a tour in Iraq, he felt there was nothing else he could do but become an officer.

The film has slowly generate buzz for some time. It was originally a play, then inspired a short film which was released on The Huffington Post, and is now a feature length film.

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