Rare opportunity for military historians and movie buffs to participate in on-line session with famed historian

This Sunday, the Forest City Film Festival will be hosting a virtual up-close conversation with Andy Robertshaw, a military historian and media consultant.

On staff at the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology in London, Ontario, Robertshaw is a freelance military historian, author, and broadcaster who has specialized in studying the two world wars.

He was the Military Consultant for the film 1917, Dunkirk, They Shall Not Grow Old, and War Horse, which he was on location throughout the filming. In the period before filming started, he was consulted on the screenplay and worked with Richard Curtis.

Robertshaw’s business, Battlefield Partnerships Ltd, provides military props and original items for prop houses and consultations on film projects. He is currently working on a project for Twickenham Studios that will be complete later this year.

Forest City Film Festival Founder and Executive Director Dorothy Downs described last Friday’s rehearsal as a fascinating conversation and said it was jaw-dropping how cool it was.

Downs was excited when talking about the specific topics Robertshaw and David O’Keefe would be discussing. O’Keefe, a historian, best-selling author, teacher, documentarian, will be moderating the conversation.

“This up-close conversation doesn’t have to be about our film festival. It’s about interesting, fascinating people coming to talk to us. Really the gist of the conversation is going to be about the film 1917, but of course, there’ll be other off shoots. Like all of the other directors he’s worked with just working in film from a historical standpoint and specifically war films,” she added.

Robertshaw was previously a Museum Director for the Ministry of Defense. Before that, he was Head of Education and Events at the National Army Museum in London, England.

Currently, he runs a replica World War One trench in Sussex, which has been featured in various television and film projects and for which he provided advice, uniformed extras, and props.

For the film 1917, he was also costume, prop and Set Dec consultant. This very successful experience demonstrated his ability to balance historical accuracy with the needs of a production. He works with actors, extras, and crew, provides historical background, and motives actors and extras unfamiliar with military history or the period being portrayed.

The discussion will also dive into subjects explaining what it’s like to work at a level of filmmaking where you’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars in the budget to pull together something that is very authentic, and bring people back to that time and place.

Downs talked about how she thinks that having the research done to accurately represent the times and an event is critical anytime you do a historical film.

“To have somebody who can research with depth, help actors portray their roles properly, and help get the setting right adds so much dimension to a story. From a historical standpoint, to be able to have all of that covered, it’s vitally important to the holistic approach to filmmaking; the details are so important.”

The up-close conversation is about film in general, but it’s also about history and war.

“Military historians fall over themselves to talk to Andy, and we’ve got David O’Keefe to talk to him. He’s one of Canada’s preeminent historians for this era,” says Downs.

O’Keefe, a former member of the Royal Highland Regiment, is a bestselling author, documentarian, and television host for programs on The History Channel. The television presenter, author, historian, and documentarian has helped shape the understanding of Canada and its significant role during world conflict.

He is a history professor at Marianopolis College and has also been a creator, producer, historian, and writer for History Television in Canada for over 20 years.

His productions, such as Camp X, documented the intricate role Canada played in allied intelligence, and the documentary Dieppe Uncovered was well received for adding to the story of this tragic event.

O’Keefe has led many battlefield tours and filmed documentaries on some of the most seminal locations in Canadian military history, including:

          • Dieppe
          • Normandy
          • Ypres
          • Beaumont-Hamel
          • Vimy Ridge
          • Hong Kong
          • Liri Valley
          • Monte la Difensa
          • Monte Casino
          • The Hitler Line
          • Boulogne, Calais
          • The Scheldt and Reichswald
          • Northern Holland.

Downs commented that having Robertshaw and O’Keefe talk to each other is almost like a once in a lifetime combination.

“It was so much fun listening to them talk on Friday, and we had to cut them off. We were like, ‘okay guys. We don’t want you to talk about everything, or you won’t ask those questions again on Sunday.’ It was awesome, and David Okeefe is a real pro, and he’s very good at interviewing. That’s the secret sauce to really getting Andy to tell us some amazing things.”

The Forest City Film Festival has been around for five years, and they focus on films with a connection to the region of Southwestern Ontario. They recently introduced an up-close conversation, which is a slight shift in focus from the region.

The conversation will be taking place Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, from 4 p.m. till 5 p.m. The cost to participate is $20.00.

There is a 15 per cent discount for those that are members of military organizations. Contact Paul Culliton here to receive the discount code.

How to Use Your Code to Redeem Tickets discount:

1) Go to:

2) Click “purchase” and you will be taken to the Eventive page for
the screening.

3) Click “Have a discount code”

4) This is where you will use the code provided above

5) You will receive an order confirmation in an email with the link to the screening. You will also be receiving a reminder email closer to the screening.

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Julia Lennips

Julia is a journalist who is an avid reader and an artist. She is living in North Bay, ON pursing her passion for reporting.

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