Free screening of Fanshawe grads film on campus

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Canadian trooper Marc Diab, of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, was two weeks away from the end of his tour in Afghanistan in March 2009. The 22-year-old was planning to propose to his childhood sweetheart upon his return, until an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle and killed him.

Portraits of Diab's life and death have been preserved in Fanshawe graduate Brendon Culliton's documentary, If I Should Fall.

Culliton, a Broadcast Journalism and Digital Post-Production graduate, did not personally know Diab, but the soldier's story made its way into his life through happenstance.

Culliton and his father, Paul, both always had an interest in the military and its history. They developed the idea to produce a piece on the Afghanistan war. They connected with Paul's friend, Mike Richards, a police officer and former member of the Canadian Forces. Richards set the pair up to interview retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie. The original plan was to create a television series called "Afghan Diaries"; however, after Richards put them in contact with the Diab family, plans changed.

"The interviews (with the family) were very emotional," said Culliton. "It wasn't until after (they) happened that I started putting together the idea of focusing in on the story of Marc, because it was so emotionally compelling, so real."

Diab's life and death also encompassed issues beyond his own story.

"As much as the film is about Marc, it's also about his family, what they went through and what Canadians go through together," explained Culliton.

"A lot of people, including myself when I began this project, don't have a very good understanding of what our soldiers are doing in Afghanistan. This documentary aims to give the viewer that understanding while putting a human face on the soldiers: using the story of one to tell the story of many."

Diab moved to Canada with his family to escape the ongoing war in Lebanon. He had always had the desire to become a soldier. Diab's family, despite his death, still feel like his spirit is around them, said Culliton.

"They are Lebanese Catholic and hold a very strong belief in life beyond death ... that gives them strength to share their story, knowing that Marc is helping push it in the right direction," he explained. "Other Canadian families who have gone through similar fates will hopefully be able to heal themselves through this movie."

As for the average viewer, Culliton hopes they can connect in some way with the story, "to open their hearts and their minds and return to society with a higher ambition to live their life and make a difference and love the ones they care about, just as Marc would want us to."

The film's title, If I Should Fall, refers to soldiers facing their own mortality when they go into war and how each one does it differently. It connects with the idea of what they will leave behind or be remembered by. The film includes interviews with the family, as well as the interviews with troopers who survived the IED that killed Diab.

The Social Justice Club is presenting two free showings of If I Should Fall on November 8 and 11. The screenings begin at 8 p.m. in the D1060 lecture theatre.

For more information on the documentary, contact Paul Culliton, Producer, at 519-902- 7444 or culliton@rogers.com. More information on Marc Diab can be found on his memorial site at marcdiab.com.