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GI Film Festival Coming to San Diego


Jeri Jacquin

The GI Film Festival is returning to San Diego for another opportunity to show some of the most amazing films, documentary's and shorts created and performed for our military. This year the festival begins on Tuesday, September 24th with an Opening Night at the Theatre of Photographic Art and a showing of TAKE ME HOME HUEY. 

TAKE ME HOME HUEY documents contemporary artist Steve Maloney’s transformation of a wounded warbird, into a colorful sculpture. As the battered helicopter becomes whole, stories of Vietnam veterans and their families parallel the healing journey of Huey #174, and viewers begin to understand what veterans must face finding relief from trauma sustained during the war. 

Following the opening film is a reception to discuss the film with a panel in the museum’s David C. Copley Atrium. There is so much more at the G.I. Film Festival continuing on Wednesday, September 25th at the Museum of Photographic Arts with the 5:15 showing of the film MOSUL.
 The film tells the 2014 story of a city that is overrun by ISIS fighters. By 2016 Iraqi soldiers and others fight to liberate Mosul. Iraqi journalist Ali Mula goes along to discover the stories and asks the question 'is the fight with ISIS over?'.

The second film of the evening is HOMEMADE, a film that follows Marine Adam Sorensen and his life after the war. This is an emotional film of readjustment to life and the transition of military to civilian life. Six years of filming from being wounded in combat to what can only be described as traumatic transition, I think we all know someone who can relate to this journey.

On Thursday, September 26th at the Museum of Photographic Arts, the film THE WHISTLEBLOWER screens. Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson saw what happened on March 16th, 1968 and the incident in the My Lai village in Vietnam during the war. Unable to stop what killing around him, Thompson reports the massacre to military high command that brought about a trial for the ages. The film also sees the after affects through the lives of others to teach a generation about war.

Following the film WHISTLEBLOWER is the Drama Block: The Intense Stories of Service with shorts including That's Mine, Escape by Sea, Breaking Point, A Soldier's Way, Reddog, and Entrenched.

Friday, September 27 at the Museum of Photographic Art is the Drama Block: Not Your Everyday Story with #3 Normandy Lane, A Rodeo Film, The Man I Want to Be, Last Taxi Dance, Polka, The Real Thing, This One Step, and Deviant. Each of these shorts is either made by or stars military or veterans. Following the screening there are discussions with the filmmakers and the actors which is a fantastic way to learn more about each of these pieces.

Following the shorts is the film twisted thriller THE BLACK STRING, starring Frankie Munoz. The writer/director Brian Hanson served in the US Army with the 75th Ranger Regiment deployed several times to Afghanistan. He volunteers with Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME) and grew up in Escondido studying film at Palomar College and SDSU.

Producer Richard Handley is also familiar with San Diego as he began his medical career stationed on the USS Constellation at a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He earned an MFA in Film from Mount St. Mary's University and a Graduate Certificate in Producing from UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. 

Saturday, September 28th is a full day of film at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center in Mission Valley. Starting with the documentary SUNKEN ROADS: Three Generations After D-Day. This is the story of those who were there on June 6th and their return to Normandy. This documentary will squeeze your heart and open your mind.

Next is the documentary DONUT DOLLIES about the Red Cross Donut Dollies who were brought in to help the troops but truly had no idea what they were getting into. Forty-seven years later these women come together to share their stories and talk about the memories they kept to themselves.

The next documentary is ISLAND SOLDIER that introduces a story that I had only hear faint stories of but now know so much more. It is the story of Microneasians who joined the US military and were sent to Afghanistan. This story tells the effects to the people and island they leave behind.

Later in the evening is the Awards Celebration at the Parq Event Center. It is an opportunity to recognize those who have shown excellence in filmmaking. The event will be hosted by Navy Officer Jamie Kaler. 

The final day of screening, Sunday, September 29, begins with Doc Block: True Stories of Survival and Heroism at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center in Mission Valley. Beginning with 
Team River Runner - Beyond Padding, Ocean Station November, The Invalid Corps, XVII Carvings, Under the Needle and Finding Satan. 

Next is the Vietnam Black of shorts with Vietnam Aftermath, Others May Live: American Patriot, and Remains: The Search for SFC Samuel J. Padgett. These are documentaries about Vietnam and the Veterans who served. There is a panel discussion with filmmakers and actors to follow.

Finally, SCRAMBLE THE SEAWOLVES is a documentary about the US Navy's first and only Attack Helicopter Gunship Squadron. Started in 1967, it has only taken fifty years for their story to finally be told. 

This is an amazing schedule of films, documentary's and shorts as only the G.I. Film Festival can bring to San Diego. The GI Film Festival San Diego 'aims to reveal the struggles, triumphs and experiences of service members and veterans through compelling and authentic storytelling. '

Partnering with KPBS, the GI Film Festival has continued to bring such amazing pieces that bright about thought provoking discussion and so much emotion. Each day brings a new aspect of history through filmmaking for everyone to learn what may not be in the history books about war but also hearing from those who experiences it.

Although I highly recommend this festival to family's who have service members but also everyone else as well. It is such an education in so many ways in the stories that are told about war but how our society in recent years has had to reach out more and more. We can no longer let our military return from war and veterans suffer in silence with their experiences. 

Attending the GI Film Festival San Diego is amazingly easy, please visit www.gifilmfestivalsd.org to see the listing of screening times and purchase tickets. There is also an All Access pass that allows you into the screenings and events which is the best way to spend the week!

The GI Film Festival San Diego represents the best and brightest is filmmaking telling the stories that we all need to not only see but experience.