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Film festival boosts morale of troops in Afghanistan

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Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 4:30 am

CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan — Members of the headquarters element of Deputy Commander of Support Operations, under NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, many of whom are deployed from Fort Hood, held a film festival to boost morale Sept. 2.

The idea for the festival came from the Cannes Film Festival, an international event that takes place in a seaside town in the south of France.

Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., commander of the 13th Sustainment Command, set strict rules for the entries. Film clips had to be in good taste, and were judged on costume and scenery, special effects, the number of staff members participating, acting abilities and the accuracy of re-enactment. The audience also gave some input by clapping up a storm for the popular vote scores. Festival organizers showed the original movie clip before playing their three- to five-minute re-enactment piece.

Participants welcomed the film festival.

“I think it builds good cohesion and it’s a good distraction from all the work we currently have going on,” said Sgt. Irene Lopez, a human resources specialist with 13th Sustainment.

The re-enactments included the following movies: “The Wizard of Oz,” “Talladega Nights,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “Office Space,” “The Color Purple” and “We Were Soldiers.”

“We chose to re-enact ‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,’ because it is a favorite of several people in the J3 current operations shop,” said Maj. Joshua Johnson, the officer in charge of the logistics common operating picture within current operations. “We also thought it would be easy to re-enact the ‘baby-Jesus’ prayer around the table scene,” said Johnson, who played Cal, Ricky’s best friend and teammate from the movie.

Lopez and her office chose to re-enact “The Wizard of Oz” scene where Dorothy is welcomed to munchkin land. Lopez said they just recently received their first coalition forces co-worker from Belgium, and the section found it fitting to do this part of the movie to welcome their new addition.

Being in a deployed environment, one has to be inventive when it comes to costumes and props for a movie shoot. Actors were seen wearing anything from trash-bag tutus to wigs made out of mop heads.

“For the costumes, we used different levels of the physical fitness uniform and winter gear to imitate the different NASCAR jackets,” said Johnson. “We then printed off some brand name logos and taped them to our outfits to represent sponsors.”

Johnson also explained that his crew did several takes and then edited the best scenes into one fluid movie “to highlight the incredible acting abilities of our superior staff.”

The first four best performances received winner’s cups that are awarded each month to the sections that distinguish themselves in the current month’s morale building event. The fourth-place cup went to future operations, the third-place cup to logistics operations, the second-place to the combined efforts of the current operations and intelligence sections and the winner of this month’s challenge is the combined staff sections of personnel, logistics, resource management and the secretary of joint staffs.

“I am very glad that we won, because we put a lot of effort into it,” said Lopez.

Members of the 13th Sustainment Command plan on continuing the tradition of monthly staff challenges and morale building events upon their return to Fort Hood.

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