Former soldier nominated alongside David Attenborough for national film award

A former soldier turned filmmaker, Aaron Sayers, who now works at the University of Portsmouth, has been nominated for a national film award in the same category as documentaries featuring David Attenborough, Trevor McDonald and Manchester City.

Aaron Sayers’ feature-length documentary Chosen Men has been shortlisted for Best Documentary in the National Film Awards. It will compete in a public vote against seven other documentaries including the BBC’s wildlife series Dynasties presented by David Attenborough, the ITV documentary Trevor McDonald and the Killer Nurse and Amazon’s All or Nothing, a behind the scenes series at Manchester City.

Aaron’s film follows a group of army veterans over a 10 year period and their challenges of adapting to civilian life, inspired by his own experience after serving for more than four years in the Royal Green Jackets Regiment.

After leaving the army, Aaron graduated with a degree in BA (Hons) Film Production at the University’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries and has been writing, producing and directing his film during his free time while working as Department Manager at the University’s Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE).

Voting closes on 20 March with the winners and awards ceremony taking place in London on 28 March.

The public can now vote on their favourites to win. Aaron hopes the people of Portsmouth will support his effort. For details on how to vote, see www.nationalfilmawards.org

 

Aaron said: “It is a real honour to have been nominated for a national award amongst some of the real heavy hitters from last year; it was a great year for documentary. But most importantly, this nomination will hopefully help to raise awareness of the film. A key reason for taking this project on was to provide a platform for the veteran’s voice to be heard, so I hope this nomination will help get that voice out there and highlight that a soldier’s story does not end on the battlefield.

“A key inspiration for the film was my own experience as a soldier transitioning back to civilian life and the difficulties every soldier faces in creating a new identity for themselves. A lot of military films focus on service and operations, it’s exciting and cinematic, but very few tackle what happens once you leave the gates for the last time and that is the story I wanted to tell. I was lucky in that I was accepted to the University as a mature student before I left so I knew where I was going and the University helped me with that transition. As a film student, I also revisited my military past with some of my short films and the course was a fantastic way to experiment and learn the craft of filmmaking.

“Chosen Men is the veteran story told honestly by a veteran that details the reality of military life and life after service. I hope viewers will gain awareness of the difficulties veterans face and see that soldiers are not broken when they leave the military, far from it, the majority go on to be very successful but more can be done to support the transition.”

One of Aaron’s former lecturers who still teaches at the University in the School of Film Media and Communication, Searle Kochberg said: “I just wanted to say how thrilled I am to hear about the nomination. Aaron has continued to inspire us since he graduated!”

Chosen Men includes an interview with SAS veteran and author Andy McNab and a recreation of the Battle of Waterloo, with filming done in Portsmouth and featuring soldiers from the city. The film had a theatrical release during the summer of 2018, and is now available to watch on AmazonSky StoreGoogle PlayiTunes and the Microsoft Store.

Vote for Chosen Men at nationalfilmawards.org/voting.

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