UPDATE: In an unrelated note, Ryan “Birdman” Parrott is the Navy SEAL who descended from the overhead scoreboard at AT&T Stadium with his dog on Sunday prior to the Cowboys-Cardinals game. The video has since gone viral. Read on for Parrott’s story as it relates to the film festival.
Ryan “Birdman” Parrott experienced the horrors of war while serving in the Navy SEALS for eight years. In 2005, he was injured when his vehicle was engulfed in flames after hitting a roadside bomb in Iraq.
But what Parrott saw after returning to the United States prompted him to start Sons of the Flag, a Dallas-based organization that helps find treatment for military burn victims as a way of helping out his fellow soldiers.
“I saw a lot of tragedy and a lot of heroics,” Parrott said. “Brotherhood is the most important thing you have in the service.”
As part of its fundraising effort, Sons of the Flag is holding the inaugural Stars and Stripes Film Festival on Nov. 6-9 at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station.
After leaving the service, Parrott met a retired Army captain who was severely wounded in Iraq and had more than three dozen surgeries. That’s when he learned how underserved burn victims are by the medical community.
“As Americans we can do a lot better. I was very upset by that,” he said. “I wanted to start something and I asked him to join me.”
So he started the nonprofit organization in 2012 with the help of various local investors. Parrott seeks to stage unique events to raise funds and awareness for the cause, which is where the film festival comes into play. The event is being chaired by Park Cities philanthropists Lynn and Allan McBee.
The four-day festival will include 13 screenings of a wide variety of films both old and recent with a common theme of saluting the military and first responders. Each screening will have a question-and-answer session afterward, and all of the proceeds will go to Sons of the Flag.
“I wanted to do something that was supportive of his organization and their efforts,” said festival programmer James Faust, artistic director of the Dallas Film Society. “We made the decision to show movies that were about our soldiers, and we wanted to cover as many divisions of armed forces and armed services folks as we could.”