Source: York University
War and remembrance are focus for York film student
November 6, 2006
TORONTO, November 6, 2006 -- Ryan Knight was 13 when he saw Saving Private Ryan and decided to become a filmmaker. Now 21, Knight is in his fourth year of film studies at York University, and the themes of love and loss in wartime are on his mind, especially as Remembrance Day approaches.
Knight was chosen as the National Film Board of Canada’s official English-language cinematographer for a Ceremony of Remembrance in France on July 1. It was held to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and the virtual annihilation of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment on the first day of that fight, at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel.
Filming the ceremony for the NFB was an honour awarded to Knight when his short film The Road of the World, won first prize in a film competition sponsored by the film board, Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canadian War Museum. He travelled to France and Belgium as part of Veterans Affairs’ youth delegation, with a group of veterans and today’s Newfoundland Regiment. His footage is being used for an educational piece that will focus on Newfoundland’s contribution in World War I.
"People say that the people who see war never stop seeing war. But you really can’t understand that until you meet the veterans," says Knight. "The French-language cinematographer and I were the first ones off the plane and we watched the veterans return to France. For many of them, the last time they were there was when they came to free the continent and defend democracy."
War has been a focus of two of Knight’s short films: The Road of the World tells the story of a man who is called to duty in World War I, whose family is left to pray for his safe return; Away from the Line, a nominated film at the 2005 YoungCuts Film Festival, follows three soldiers who reflect on their lives during a reconnaissance mission in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.
Knight attributes his interest in war and war films to his family history. "My grandfather was a fighter pilot in World War II and his brother was a captain on a PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat. Making the war films helped me fill in the blanks about my grandfather’s life, who died when I was six. Many other members of my family were in the service as well, from the navy, to the army infantry, to the nurses’ service. And my dad was a history major who kept war series encyclopedias in the house and flew planes as a hobby."
History books and real-life letters from soldiers and their families helped Knight portray the hardships of war in his short films. However, seeing the historical monuments, military cemeteries and battlefields of Europe has given him an even greater appreciation of the sacrifice – whether it was the thousands upon thousands of graves at Notre Dame de Lorette, or the 44 graves at the 2nd Canadian Sunken Road Cemetery near Beaumont Hamel. Taking part in a youth candlelight vigil at that small cemetery for soldiers from the Ottawa Valley was particularly poignant, says Knight.
"The Candlelight Ceremony symbolizes the passing of the Torch of Remembrance from one generation to another. Each member of the youth delegation carried a candle lit by one of the veterans to one of the graves there, placed the lit candle on top of the grave marker and made note of the name and age of the deceased soldier, along with the epitaph created on the grave marker by a loved one. This experience left an indelible impression upon me."
What: Remembrance Day Ceremony and screening of film The Road of the World
When: Friday, November 10, 2006
Where: Ceremony at Harry Arthurs Common – York flagpole, 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
Screening of film at Accolade East 004, 11:30 a.m.
York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 190,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 11 faculties and 23 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.
Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22101 / firstname.lastname@example.org