GI Film Festival – Six Days of Courageous Cinema

GI Film Festival San Diego Boasts Six Days of Courageous Cinema

Opening Night is Tuesday, Sept. 25
34 films over six days, from Sept. 25-30, 2018

‘American’ starring actor and activist George Takei opens 2018 military film festival

Since World War II, San Diego has been a major military and defense epicenter in the U.S. With seven military bases between the Navy, Marines, and the Coast Guard, San Diego is home to one of the largest active-duty military populations in the U.S. with more than 100,000 active duty members.

San Diego County also has the third largest veteran population in the U.S. with more than 240,000 veterans. It is evident that the military is a significant and vital part of the San Diego community, but the voices of our active duty personnel, veterans, caregivers, and military-connected youth are often underheard, underappreciated, and underrepresented.

This was an opportunity for a better connection between our local military community and public media. It’s because of this KPBS, San Diego’s public media organization, took action to build on what public media does best: tell great stories. In 2015 KPBS launched the GI Film Festival San Diego in partnership with the DC-based GI Film Festival, becoming one of only a few film festivals in the entire U.S. to exclusively feature stories for, by and about military service members and veterans.

Now in its fourth year the GI Film Festival San Diego will present 34 films over six days, from Sept. 25-30, 2018, with a lineup that features the untold and underrepresented stories of America’s military through film. The San Diego military film festival, features nine world premieres and five West Coast premieres, as well as several screenings, filmmaker appearances, and panel discussions. GI Film Festival San Diego attendees have opportunities to not only watch films, but to also have conversations to tackle tough topics that are usually unspoken.

“Every year the GI Film Festival San Diego brings together the untold military stories from around the globe,” said Nancy Worlie, associate general manager of content and communications at KPBS. “From full-length documentaries to narrative shorts, all audience members are given a chance to see the underrepresented stories that make up our military history. Attendees will also be able to experience life through the eyes of veteran filmmakers, including stories around the hardship of coming out to your grandparents and the dilemma of fighting for a country that could deport you because of your citizenship. This year’s film festival is once again filled with diverse stories that are for, about or by military service members that truly exemplify courageous filmmaking.”

The depth of the GI Film Festival San Diego covers an array of topics, giving attendees a glimpse of what military service members, and their families, have done and sacrificed for the U.S. This year, films feature diverse stories ranging from LGBTQ+ military members, women service members, the themes of resiliency and recovery, and caregiving post-deployment. Selections also highlight multicultural military experiences from the Hispanic, African American, Asian and Jewish point-of-views.

Opening Night is Tuesday, Sept. 25
The six-day San Diego military film festival begins with the ever-popular Opening Night Screening and Reception on Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in iconic Balboa Park. The evening includes screenings of the narrative short “American,” followed by the documentary short, “The Registry.” Special guest George Takei, who is the lead actor in “American,” is anticipated to attend the Opening Night Screening and Reception. Both films focus on World War II events and emphasize the important roles and services that Japanese-American military members provided throughout the war. In addition to Takei, the directors of each film are expected to attend the Opening Night celebration and will participate in a panel discussion after the screenings.

Screenings then continue through Friday, Sept. 28 at the Museum of Photographic Arts. The festival moves to UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center for the Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30 screenings.

All Access Passes, general admission tickets for the Opening Night Screening and Reception, as well as the rest of the festival screenings can be found at Many of the events will be open to the public with discounted opportunities for active duty personnel and veterans.

Additional titles confirmed for the GI Film Festival San Diego this year include:

• “I Am That Man” – John Beckett is a soldier without a war. While struggling to adjust to civilian life and the breakdown of his marriage, Beckett considers returning to his life as a Navy SEAL. When his beloved friend and mentor is brutally murdered in a racially motivated attack, Beckett calls on his specialized skills to bring the perpetrators to justice. Has he found a new sense of purpose or will this be his last mission?

• “G.I. José” – A Mexican-American U.S. Army soldier comes back home and faces the dilemma of whether to defend his family, or the laws of the country he vowed to protect.

• “The Hello Girls: The Story of America’s First Female Soldiers” – By the end of World War I, American female telephone operators, known affectionately as the Hello Girls, had connected over 26 million phone calls. They served with distinction, wore Army uniforms, were subject to military law, and swore Army oaths. Several received military awards and decorations. They also served during the occupation of Germany and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The last of the Hello Girls returned home in 1920, only to be told they were never soldiers. Led by Merle Egan from Helena, Montana, they fought the U.S. government for 60 years for recognition. In 1977, they won; unfortunately, only 36 were still alive. Told through 100-year old letters, photos, archival footage, and interviews with family and historians, the “Hello Girls” reveals the relatively unknown story of 223 American women who served overseas during WWI as telephone operators.

• “From Baghdad to The Bay” – This film follows the epic journey of Ghazwan Alsharif, an Iraqi refugee and former translator for the U.S. military. Wrongfully accused of being a double agent, tortured by the U.S. military, and ostracized from family and country, we follow Ghazwan as he struggles to rebuild his life in the United States while coming out as an openly gay activist.

• “Kilimanjaro Warriors: A Monumental Goal for Recovery” – In February 2014 a group of amputee military veterans set forth on a monumental goal for physical and spiritual recovery. They would train and climb the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro (19341ft) in Tanzania, Africa. Consisting of six amputees and five wing man climbers, the Kilimanjaro Warriors hiked the mountain for eight days overcoming insurmountable obstacles and new challenges with each passing mile, trusting that if you have heart and believe in yourself, anything is possible.

• “Major Capers: The Legend of Team Broadminded” – This film is an honest and unflinching documentary that portrays the extraordinary life story of Major James Capers, Jr. an American hero, who persevered through adversity and after 50 classified missions rose to become one of the most decorated Force Recon Marines in history.

• “Sgt. Stubby – An American Hero” – Army Pvt. Robert Conroy is adopted by a stray, stump-tailed terrier. Conroy names his new friend Stubby and gives him a home, a family, and a chance to embark on the adventure that would define a century. The two quickly find themselves in the trenches of France during WWI and on the path to history. French soldier Gaston Baptiste befriends the duo and accompanies them along their epic journey through harsh conditions and incredible acts of courage. The film celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I and the first official Veterans Day. Rated PG.

The festival is organized by KPBS in partnership with the GI Film Group and Film Consortium
San Diego.

Official sponsors of the 2018 GI Film Festival San Diego include:

Kaminskiy Design & Remodeling, The Super Dentists, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, BAE Systems, Lewis University, National City Mile of Cars, San Diego Opera, Altus Schools, Bob Baker Subaru, and Miramar National Cemetery.

Additional support is provided by Scatena Daniels Communications.

The GI Film Festival San Diego is a proud member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition.

Full Lineup, venues and showtimes available at:

Recommend to friends
  • gplus
  • pinterest