A West Virginia hero’s life to be showcased June 23 at 2022 FestivALL Charleston

“The Wake Up Call,” a documentary on Dave Evans’ notable international humanitarian life will screen June 23, 2022, at the Culture Center in Charleston WV, as part of FestivALL Charleston 2022. GET TICKETS HERE

UPDATE: Tickets are now for sale for the June 23, 2022 FestivALL screening of “The Wake Up Call.” Admission is $10 or $5 for veterans. CLICK THIS LINK: bit.ly/thewakeupcall-tickets

OVERVIEW: “The Wake Up Call,” a documentary by Storyline Motion Pictures about the remarkable and heroic international life of West Virginia native Dave Evans, will screen at an event starting 6 p.m., Thursday, June 23, 2022, in the Culture Center Theater in the state Capitol Complex in Charleston WV, as part of the citywide FestivALL Charleston 2022. A 6 p.m. reception in the Culture Center’s Great Hall precedes the 7 p.m. screening of West Virginia premiere of the documentary about the notable, worldly career of Dave Evans, who died in Guatemala on July 3, 2020, at age 68. A panel discussion follows the 7 p.m. screening. The film received its world debut at the Boston International Film Festival April 17, 2022.

TICKETS: Admission is $10, and tickets can be purchased through the WV International Film Festival or at the Culture Center on the evening of the screening.

CREATORS: The documentary profiles Dave Evans’ 50-year career making and fitting artificial legs, arms, and hands for civilians and combatants in conflict zones and numerous countries around the globe, after losing his own legs below the knees in Vietnam. The 71-minute film, with interviews and footage from around the world, was crafted by Alison Gilkey and Eric Neudel (see profiles below). Their Storyline Motion Pictures is a small documentary film company based in Natick, Massachusetts, whose goal is to craft “thought-provoking, high quality programs about often overlooked social issues.” The documentary’s West Virginia premiere is preceded by its world premiere April 17, 2022, at the Boston International Film Festival (Boston ticket details here.)

SPONSORS: The screening of “The Wake Up Call” is sponsored by Storyline Motion Pictures; the WV International Film Festival and WestVirginiaVille.com. We are looking for additional sponsors interested in supporting the film’s message, and helping with the cost of the screening and future showings, plus film festival submissions around the country and world. If interested, visit WestVirginiaVille’s Contact page, contact Storyline Motion Pictures or reach out to the WV International Film Festival

Dave Evans crafts prosthetic limbs in Charleston WV in 1985 at Hanger Prosthetics, some of them for civilians and combatants injured in political violence in El Salvador. | Huntington Herald-Dispatch photograph

More about the documentary

Dave Evans was a renowned prosthetist, humanitarian and peace activist. A double amputee himself, he dedicated his post-military career to transforming lives shattered by these seemingly never-ending, interchangeable wars. From Syrian refugees in a prosthetics clinic in Amman, Jordan, to the fallout of war in places like Iraq, Dave chose a life of service to others.

Filmmakers Alison Gilkey and Eric Neudel note on the official website for “The Wake Up Call” that the film is more than just a chronicle of a single, noteworthy life: “His story since that fateful day provides the framework within which fellow anti-war veterans eloquently address many issues related to war and the lessons we never seem to learn from senseless combat. Together they provide a lens through which indelible images emerge, all to evoke the underlying humanity that rises in response to the horrors of war.”

“We believe the film will generate a fierce discussion about patriotism and war, especially in light of recent on-going world events. Our characters have an irrefutable standing, and their experiences and hard earned wisdom make for compelling viewing. If war is a choice, “The Wake Up Call” gives expert counsel about the decision to get involved.

They go on to say: “This film explores the realities of war and collateral damage, and redefines the concept of patriotism, rejecting the blind acceptance and inevitability of war and instead embracing a dedication to humankind: veterans, refugees, fellow citizens, and even current and former adversaries.”

“War is the obscene failure of people’s inability to communicate.”

~ Dave Evans

More about Dave Evans

Dave Evans back in his native state in 2017, in Charleston, W.Va. Visiting from his home in Guatemala for a WVPB documentary on West Virginians who served in Vietnam | Photo by F. Brian Ferguson

Dave Evans was a West Virginia coal miner’s son from Cabin Creek, who enlisted in the Marines in 1969, at age 17 and soon found himself on the front lines in Vietnam’s jungles. On Dec. 4, 1970, he led a squad of riflemen in the central highlands north of Danang, to rescue a downed American helicopter crew. Grenade and gunfire erupted as they walked into an ambush and Dave stepped on a mine. With the exception of him and his radioman, the rest of the squad was killed. “Particularly inspiring,” his Bronze Star citation would later note, “he verbally encouraged his companions to continue their mission while he awaited medical attention and evacuation.”

Grievously wounded, the young soldier lost both his legs beneath the knees. After being flown back to America, he spent time six months in Philadelphia Naval Hospital for physical therapy, before returning home to Cabin Creek. He got fitted for prosthetic legs, finding work with Hangar Prosthetics in Charleston WV. He went on to study in a post-doctoral prosthetics program at New York University medical school from 1979 to 1982. He soon shifted his focus back out into the wider world, putting himself at considerable risk while he criss-crossed the planet, fitting prosthetic limbs to victims of violence, young and old, civilian and combatant.


Some photos of the many children wounded by war and other calamities who Dave and his teams fitted with prosthetic limbs. CLOCKWISE (From Upper left): Sierra Leone; El Salvador; Jordan: Sierra Leone; Jordan; Sierra Leone.

In describing where, exactly, this native from the West Virginia hills ended up spending the bulk of his life, you might get a better picture by opening up a world atlas. A 2021 WestVirginiaVille.com profile about Dave on the occasion of his passing, “HERO OF THE OPEN HEART: The Long, Strange Trip of Dave Evans’ Notable Life,” toted them up:

Nicaragua. El Salvador. Cambodia. Vietnam. Cuba. Sierra Leone. Ethiopia. Angola. Tanzania. Iraq. Jordan, Syria. The Republic of Georgia. India. Tajikistan. The West Bank. Peru. Russia. And his own homeland of the United States of America.

In interviews, he estimated he and his teams had fitted around 20,000 adults, youth and children with artificial legs, hands, and arms, in five decades of work. Dave also trained more than 1,500 prosthetists, who work around the world to this day.

About the filmmakers

Alison Gilkey is the producer of the acclaimed PBS documentary “Lives Worth Living” and “The Great Fight for Disability Rights”. She co-directed the short educational film “At Your Service.” She served as a film envoy and film expert in 2013 and 2014 for the US Department of State’s cultural exchange program, American Film Showcase, traveling to Laos, Vietnam, Russia and Pakistan. She curated “America’s Disability Rights Museum on Wheels,” which has been touring the country since 2015.

Eric Neudel has been an editor and producer of many PBS programs. He has worked on “After The Crash” and “Eyes On The Prize” for The American Experience; “The U.S. and The Philippines: In Our Image”; “AIDS: Chapter One” for NOVA; and “Vietnam: A Television History” for World. His independent films include “Steps” (1980), “Fred’s Story” (1994), “Marie” (1995), and “Fred’s Roman Holiday” (2009). Eric directed the critically acclaimed Independent Lens film “Lives Worth Living”. He served as a film envoy and film expert in 2013 and 2014 for the US Department of State’s cultural exchange program, American Film Showcase. He curated “America’s Disability Rights Museum on Wheels,” which has been touring the country since 2015.

More images of Dave Evans work in the world
CLOCKWISE (from upper left): One of Dave’s trainees work to fit a prosthetic arm in Sierra Leone in 2000; Dave (kneeling) poses with trainees in Havana, Cuba, in 1989; in Nicaragua in 1998; with his graduated technicians in Goma in the Congo in 2018; with a trainee in Sierra Leon in 2000; with prosthetic technicians in Russia in 1989; and posing with his trainees in Goma in 2018.
Dave fits a man with two prosthetic arms in Sierra Leone in 1999.
Dave Evans in Jordan during a visit 2014 trip there sponsored by the Polus Center. | Photo by STEPHEN PETEGORSKY, www.spphoto.com
At a clinic in Amman, Jordan, Dave meets a family whose girl lost a leg in violence in Syria.

A final word from a lifelong anti-war activist

Never shy to hold his tongue when there was something on his mind, Dave slipped easily into the role of anti-war activist. Of outspoken, speak-truth-to-power and screw-the-consequences spokesman.

He became prominent in the growing anti-war movement in the early 1970s, teaming up with Bobby Muller and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. He learned to say a lot in a few words. 

“War,” he once stated in an interview, “is the obscene failure of people’s inability to communicate.”

He was invited to return to Vietnam and later to Central America as part of various delegations. He had found a niche. He had found his voice. Here is that voice, from a 2017 story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, in which he advocated a full-bore draft for every young American.

Every single one.

“Everybody — 18 years old. Mandatory,” he said. “Two years of national service, regardless of sex, sexual preference, economic or social standing. Everybody goes.”

That would include, he made clear, the daughter of the congressman voting for weapons purchases for another country. And the offspring of the senator voting to dispatch American troops to a faraway land.

“His daughter, Suzy, is 18? She’s going into the Marine Corps. Sen. Williams’ son is 18? He’s going in to the Air Force. They all go serve. Now, when you’ve got kids, nieces and nephews, stomping around in a rice paddy somewhere, you might think twice about declaring war,” he said.

from “HERO OF THE OPEN HEART: The Long, Strange Trip of Dave Evans’ Notable Life”

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  • admin

    Dear Barbara: That is a remarkable bit of history to add to Dave’s story! If you are able to make the Charleston WV June 23 screening of “The Wake Up Call” please let me know and I will leave a comp ticket for you at the door!

  • Barbara Boyd

    I am thrilled to learn of the film honoring David. I met him when he was referred to WV Rehabilitation services and I suggested that he might be interested in learning how to make artificial limbs since he was unhappy with those that he had. I will never forget that he jumped off his chair and was ready to go immediately. He was accepted and you know the rest of his wonderful story. I followed his progress for several years and was always so pleased to have contributed to his success.

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