Yes, the GI Film Festival is here again, and it is bringing the best films about the military world. Here is some of what you will see from Oct. 18 till Oct. 22 from filmmakers with a story to be told.
On Oct. 18, the Opening Night Screening of “The 2 Sides Project” tells the story of six U.S. sons and daughters who meet with sons and daughters of Vietnamese soldiers. What they have in common is the death of their fathers on opposite sides of the war. Visiting the sites where their fathers died, they are profoundly moved by their journey.
“World War II Remembered — Part 1” begins the festival on Oct. 19 with a block of shorts that include “All American” and a look at D-Day 72 years later from hero Les Cruise, “The Rifleman’s Violin” that follows the 90-year-old virtuoso violinist Stuart Canin and his time as a 19-year-old GI in Germany, “We Can Do It: Stories of Rosie the Riveter” tells of the courageous laborers who came to be known by that name and changed the world, and finally “Happy,” which tells the story of Larry “Happy” Powell, who flew 68 missions over Europe in World War II.
The final film of the night is “Thank You for Your Service,” which tells the story of Adam Schumann, a young soldier who returns home only to find that home isn’t how it use to be. Dealing with trying to return to his life, Adam discovers that needing help is harder to get than he realized.
Family Movie Night is the Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics blockbuster “Wonder Woman” on Oct. 20 presented on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum. All attendees will get a bag of popcorn and see an exclusive preview of the upcoming animated film “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.” The best part is that costumes are absolutely encouraged!
On Saturday, Oct. 21, “World War II Remembered — Part 2” continues with “Pearl Harbor Survivors Relive the Infamous Day” and filmmakers speak to survivors about their experiences December 1941, “Aircraft Warning Service Volunteer” is the story of Betty Tenney of Carlsbad who volunteered with the Aircraft Warning Service, and “Buddy’s Odyssey” as B-17 Pilot Robert “Bud” Kingsbury and a sole survivor when he is shot down and his road to healing.
Also, “USS Pearl Harbor” gives us insight by Commander Ted Essenfeld through his thoughts and artifacts, “Remembering Pearl Harbor: Mary Lou Mawhiney” is a 94-year-old woman who shares her memories of surviving Pearl Harbor and finally “The Last Ring Home” with the story of World War II Lt. Minter Dial and a ring he wanted to be returned to his wife after being a prisoner of the Japanese for 2 and a half years.
“American Veteran” is a film about Army Sgt. Nick Mendes, who became paralyzed serving in Afghanistan in 2011. The film talks about his life and where it has taken him. Julie Cohen is the film’s director and the founder of BetterThanFiction Productions. “After the Fire,” set on a San Antonio outpost speaks to the challenges facing women veterans. Telling of their personal experiences and adjusting to military life, the film talks of combat injuries, bureaucratic dysfunction and sexual trauma.
Bill Cooper has just been discharged from the army and isn’t home long before disappearing. When his brother Joe comes to bring him home, there is a family that needs to come back together in “High Low Forty.”
The Local Film Showcase featured films made by or starring veterans with “Once Guilty,” “Now Innocent” and more. “Still Dead” brings a 19th century legendary assassin to clash with a cattle baron. “Fletcher & Jenks” are a detective and rookie are on the case of a serial murderer. “Forgotten Hero” is a thriller of downed Soviet fighters who support North Korea in 1952. “Black Christmas” is the story of a man accused of a crime by just going out to the store. “Child’s Play” takes a jab at the Naval Academy. “Refuge” takes place in 2049, and women are enslaved to bring back the male population. “Call Me Ma’am” is the true story of being a Navy officer from a woman’s point of view and “USO San Diego 75 Anniversary” tells the story of the volunteers who help bring home away from home to military personnel.
The Local Film Showcase: Deported Veterans begins with the story of Daniel Torres who was recruited into the Marines by lying that he was an American in “Deported Veterans of American: Daniel Torres.” “Exiled” tells of two green card hold immigrants who join the military and now find themselves deported.
The evening ends with the awards celebration to honor the filmmakers featured in the Local Film Showcase.
The final day, Sunday Oct. 22, remembers the Vietnam War with “Distinguished Wings Over Vietnam,” recounting the personal lives of four combat pilots who flew in the Vietnam war, risking their lives and how it changed their lives. “The Vietnam War” is the documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the consequences, divisive and controversial events that are now part of our history.
Tour the Festival brings a collection of shorts beginning with “The Colonel,” where Marine Col. Hap Tasker is told heart problems could stop him from military service, “Charlie & Sam” shows us the World War II veterans that are still alive in 2016 and Charlie Edwards and Sam Takis reunite. And finally “Gary Sinise: Always Do a Little More” tells the story of Gary Sinise and the origins of his commitment to the U.S. military, veterans and first responders as well as their families and his dedication to them all.
Finally, the GI Film Festival closes with “How We Heal,” and the unique ways our veterans become whole again in their way. “Places Like This” is a group of veterans who take a six-day winter trip into the Colorado wilderness through the Outward Bound program, and “Comedy Bootcamp: The Documentary” follows veteran comedians who use humor to share their stories through the Comedy Bootcamp program.
There is so much more to the GI Film Festival in San Diego so please visit http://gifilmfestivalsd.org/2017/ to see more of the schedule and purchase tickets. This is an amazing festival of talented filmmakers and the stories they share with us all.