Private David Tindal, killed in France, aged 26 (Photo courtesy of David Tindal's family)

Double honours for First World War soldier's story at IWM film awards

Posted on on 02 December 2014
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A film re-imagining the letters sent home by a British First World War soldier as a series of tweets has won two awards at the Imperial War Museum's 2014 Short Film Festival.

tWWItter-David Tindal's Story, produced by Mark Gorton, took the prize for Best Creative Response, on top of the First World War Commendation specially introduced for the Centenary.

Gorton's aim was to find a way of telling the story of Private David Tindal, who served in the Highland Light Infantry, for a younger generation.

The technique is remarkably simple but effective. Images of tweets click gently in and out of vision, linked to archival film clips and the poignant soundtrack of Arvo Pärt's 'Spiegel im Spiegel.'

Using David Tindal's own words, the 'tweets' follow his experiences, from 'setting off on the greatest adventure of my life' to his growing disillusion with the war: 'he who comes through this hell physically and mentally sound can go anywhere'.

Tindal was killed by a shell on June 30th 1916, three days after writing 'Far better to die early than grow up in poor health, worldly failure, domestic infelicity or many another fate. In touch again when possible.' He was 26.

Mark Gorton (above, with Professor David Reynolds at IWM) said he'd been moved by his own family links with the Great War.

"My grandmother's two brothers both fell on the first day of the Somme offensive in 1916, within 24 hours of each other, so I was kind of raised by this context," Gorton told the awards ceremony at IWM London on December 1st 2014.

"My grandfather joined a Pals Battalion and when I was six or seven, my father would take me to see him, and he had lost an arm from a wound that became gangrenous."

Eleven of the 35 films shortlisted for the IWM Short Film Festival, relaunched this year after a break for the museum's  redevelopment, focussed on the 1914-18 conflict. 

Presenting the First World War Commendation, Cambridge historian Professor David Reynolds said he and his fellow judges had been impressed with the very high standard.

"What struck us about the best of the films is that they were trying to make a catastrophic event that is a hundred years old now, and in some ways very difficult to understand, vivid and moving for own time in ways that are not simply sentimental."

Mark Gorton said he wanted to dedicate his awards to Private David Tindal 'who like so many gave everything and asked so little in return.'

To watch 'tWWItter-David Tindal's Story' click here.

Sources: IWM; Mark Gorton

Images courtesy of David Tindal's family; Mark Gorton  ('tWWItter); and Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News (presentation)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News