NYFA Veterans Attend Exclusive Screening of “Dunkirk”

July 27, 2017

This month, NYFA Veterans were invited to attend an exclusive pre-release screening of feature film “Dunkirk,” through the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund’s (MPTF) Veteran Benefits Assistance Program. NYFA Veterans William Grodnick and Luis Camacho attended the special screening of “Dunkirk” in New York City and have shared their experiences with the NYFA Blog. Please note: this blog has been edited for clarity and length.

By William Grodnick

Greetings from New York City. I was a grateful recipient of receiving a ticket on behalf of the New York Film Academy to the special screening of “Dunkirk” that was shown at the theaters at Lincoln Center.

Everyone was dressed up, looking their very best. There was a long line of  several hundred people or more standing behind velvet ropes. I saw someone who resembled Christopher Nolan, but I wasn’t sure. I was only a few feet away!

I was real impressed on how well we, the moviegoers, were treated. As I made it to the second floor, where the movie was being shown, I was greeted by a cadre of theater attendants who handed out popcorn and drinks free of charge. I found my seat: Row Q, Seat 19, right in the middle of the theater, near the latter two thirds of the theater! I couldn’t have asked for a better seat! The air conditioning was beautiful on a hot summer’s night. After a short 30 minute wait, the movie began.  

Having served in the military for the past several decades and with my knowledge of the World Wars, I found “Dunkirk” quite interesting. The sets were beautifully designed to give that feel of the seaside town of Dunkirk. With the opening scenes of the movie seeing soldiers standing along the beaches,  one can almost feel how it must have been to have been stranded there; to imagine life before the war, when it was a tourist attraction.

With Nolan’s cinematic vision, he brings to life the wrought feelings of a generation and a battle that occurred more than 70 years ago. His storytelling techniques of three different views of the battle — air, land, and sea — make this a must-watch movie for any historian.

by Luis Camacho

I would like to thank NYFA and Esther from Warner Brothers Ticketing for the opportunity to participate in the premier of “Dunkirk.” It was an amazing experience.

When we arrived there was a great crowd of media and the public waiting to see everyone walking the red carpet. The theatre event and security staff were super accommodating and professional. We were ushered in to a large auditorium that was modeled in the old art deco style. The upstairs balcony seating seemed to be for the cast, crew and celebrities. The mezzanine audience was super enthused and ready to see the film.

What can I say to describe “Dunkirk”? There are not many times that I get to see a masterpiece, and this was more special since it was a pre-premier. I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to be one of the first to see it. 

Many of us vets that take time to learn about the different conflicts know of the miracle of Dunkirk: It’s not just a military story, but the story of a nation coming together. The way Mr. Nolan puts it on the screen is a marvel in storytelling. His use of a nonlinear plot, in my opinion, captured the ethos of what war is: moments remembered in bits and pieces for those that have lived it.

Mr. Nolan has presented how war is seen from all four elements: air, water, land and fire. The beach, English Channel (sea and air), and the burning fires become characters in their own right. I really don’t want to say too much about the plot(s). Each moment of the film is what a war film should be: there’s no sugar coating any of it. The costs of what they all go through is real. It shows not only the resolve of the military members but the civilians also. Honestly all I can say is that for me is “Dunkirk” will be on the list of greatest military movies.

The New York Film Academy would like to thank William Grodnick and Luis Camacho for sharing their experience of the “Dunkirk” screening with the NYFA community.