Stone in Boulder
Oliver Stone, the former Vietnam War infantryman–and the first Vietnam veteran to have written or directed (he did both) a Vietnam War film (Platoon, 1986)–was the guest of honor at the recently completed Boulder International Film Festival in Colorado.
The honored guest received the Master of Cinema Award on Sunday, Feburary, 20, the festival’s closing night. That evening also included a retrospective of Stone’s film work and a Q&A with the man who has received 31 Academy Award nominations along with Oscars for Midnight Express, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July.
Posted on February 23rd 2011 in Feature Films, Honors and Prizes
A movement is afoot to lobby the President of the United States to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Chris Noel, the one-time Hollywood starlet who was a popular AFVN radio disk jockey in Vietnam during the war.
Noel, who received a VVA President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts at the 2008 National Leadership Conference in Greenville, South Carolina, hosted “A Date With Chris” on AFVN Radio, and toured the war zone on morale-boosting entertainment missions.
Her current mission is running Vetsville Cease Fire, a homeless veterans shelter in Florida.
You can read (and sign) the petition on line.
Posted on January 31st 2011 in Honors and Prizes, Radio
Maya Lin, who designed the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), was among the honorees last night, February 25, at the White House National Medal of Arts ceremonies. Lin received a 2009 National Medal of the Arts for “her profound work as an architect, artist, and environmentalist,” the official citation said. “Her vision for the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial emblemizes her deep understanding of the ways in which we respond to the world around us.”
The other awards winners included Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, Rita Moreno, Jessye Norman, Elie Weisel, and Robert Caro, the historian who has written (and continues to write) a multi-volume biography of President Lyndon Johnson.
The arts and the humanities “appeal to a certain yearning that’s shared by all of us,” President Obama said before awarding the medals, “a yearning for truth and for beauty, for connection and the simple pleasure of a good story.”
Posted on February 26th 2010 in Honors and Prizes, Memorials
Kevin Bacon (above left) took home the Golden Globe award last night for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his memorably powerful role as U.S. Marine Lt Col Mike Strobl in the great HBO move, Taking Chance.
VVA honored HBO and the makers of that stirring 2009 film at our National Convention last summer in Louisville. The movie, which Strobl co-wrote, dramatizes the true story of his escorting the body of young Marine Chance Phelps, who was killed in Iraq, from Dover AFB to his home in Wyoming. Strobl took questions and answers from delegates at a screening of the movie in Louisville. At the Saturday night Awards Banquet we presented the VVA President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts to Col Stobl. We also honored Vietnam veteran and western artist John Phelps (the father of Chance Phelps) that night with the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award.
Posted on January 18th 2010 in Honors and Prizes, On TV
Yusef Komunyakaa, the most-honored American poet who served in the Vietnam War, will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May. Komunyakka, a former U.S. Army journalist, and eight others will join the 250-person AAAL roster of architects, composers, artists, and writers.
This select group includes the cream of the American arts community, including literary lights Edward Albee, E.L. Doctorow. Don DeLillo, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Irving, John McPhee, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Ann Tyler, Gore Vidal, Tom Wolfe, and Garry Wills. As the Academy itself notes, being nominated and elected is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the United States.
By my reckoning, the Academy includes only one other writer who served in the military during the Vietnam War: Alan (Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All) Gurganus, along with Robert (Dog Soldiers) Stone, who did a stint in the Navy in the late fifties and early sixties. Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was elected into the Academy in 2005.
Posted on April 22nd 2009 in Honors and Prizes
Tobias Wolff, the acclaimed short story writer and memoirist (This Boys Life, In Pharaoh’s Army), who served in the Army Special Forces in the Vietnam War, received the 2009 Story Prize for short fiction on March 4. He was honored for his 2008 collection, Our Story Begins.
The Story Prize, in its fifth year, includes a $20,000 award. Wolff’s book and two other finalists were chosen from among 73 story collections published by 56 different publishers or imprints.
Wolff received the award and an engraved silver bowl at an the Story Prize awards ceremonies, which took place at The New School in New York City. The other finalists, Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth) and Joe Meno (Demons in the Spring), received $5,000 prizes. The three authors also read from their work at the event.
Here’s what I had to say about the collection in my review, which appeared in the May-June 2008 issue of The VVA Veteran:
In this collection of old and new stories, Wolff creates one or two sharply drawn, compelling characters and puts them through fast-paced, intriguing stories that quickly come to a fascinating (if sometimes inconclusive) end. These stories are set in many different locations: college campuses, Army bases, prep schools, rural areas, cities.
A few deal with Vietnam veterans. But these aren’t Vietnam War stories. They are three decades worth of first-rate short fiction from one of the greatest literary lights of our generation.
Posted on March 10th 2009 in Honors and Prizes