A Soldiers Return
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Uploaded on Apr 5, 2008
I first heard about Alan Craig a couple of years ago when I read Martin Middlebrook's excellent book about the war from the Argentine perspective The Argentine Fight for the Falklands.
Having met a number of Argentine veterans during frequent visits to their fascinating and welcoming country (where I now live), I'd been interested for some time in making a documentary from their perspective: and particularly in depicting how the war was for the poor humble conscript innocently doing his military service, and suddenly sent to a chilly, windswept island in the middle of the south Atlantic.
I was also keen to steer clear of politics, and the rights and wrongs of ownership of the Falklands/Malvinas, and concentrate on someone's visceral personal experience.
But how to interest a British audience?
Alan was the ideal character: he was intelligent and eloquent, spoke excellent English and had an interesting background: both his father and grandfather fought in the World Wars for the British.
He was also happy to meet British veterans. My original intention had been to make a documentary bringing together combatants from the same battle, inspired by the experience recounted by ex -Para Vince Bramley in his vivid and sensitive book Two Sides of Hell.
Unfortunately, despite 2007 being the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, I met with a complete lack of interest from all the main TV channels.
After numerous long late night phone conversations over several months between my London house and his flat in Buenos Aires, now I had to phone Alan to tell him it looked unlikely he'd be going back to the Falklands.
Luckily, one night at Hurst House in Soho, Dave MacCreedy, an excellent actor and film- maker came to my rescue by introducing me to Paul Tyson, a news editor at ITN.
Paul would pay for Alan to go during the week of June 14th, when all the islanders celebrate the British victory, and film some news items with him.
All I had to do was borrow a DV camera and tag along.
It was a great experience and Alan bore up remarkably well, considering the mixed emotions that were undoubtedly running through him.
Apart from being one of very few Argentines to have attended Liberation Day parade in Stanley, the sound of the bagpipes provided a particularly emotional shiver of recognition down the generations.
This is Alan's story, but there's much more to be said about the Argentine veterans' experience: for me, the saddest part is their return after the war to a nation which had promised they would be heroes but which instead shunned and ignored them.
It's another big battle which continues today.
But that's the film I haven't managed to make... yet.
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