GI Film Festival San Diego schedule of events

Posted: September 9th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured | 1 Comment

Wednesday, Sept. 14
Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park

  • 7 p.m. Opening Night screening and reception

Featuring the 2016 documentary, “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy.” Local filmmakers Sara Vladic and Melanie Capacia Johnson will participate in a Q&A and a reception afterward. This retells the fate of the World War II heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, using first-person accounts from 107 survivors of the devastating torpedo attack. West Coast premiere.

Thursday, Sept. 15
The Village Theatres in Coronado
Filmmaker Q&A and panel discussions will follow select screenings.

  • 6 p.m.: “The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel” — Peter Ertel was considered “like family” by his Jewish employers by the end of World War II, but he had a remarkable past as a German soldier for five years at the beginning of the war. In the first-person narrative documentary, the man speaks of his experience in a hatred, destruction-driven time. The film features rare archival footage — previously unreleased — as the audience learns from this former agent for the U.S. State Department.
  • 6:30 p.m.: “Almost Sunrise” — This film follows two Iraq veterans, Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, both tormented by depression for years after they returned home and pushed to the edge of suicide. The two embark on an extraordinary journey — a 2,700-mile walk across the country from Wisconsin to California — to reflect on their haunting experiences of war and to ultimately, save themselves. Will this epic pilgrimage allow them to begin the new life they so desperately seek?
  • 7 p.m.: “Remembering Vietnam” film block (multiple screenings)
    • “Escape from Firebase Kate” — During the implementation of Nixon’s plan to end the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, 26 U.S. troops are caught in the transition. Unsupported by the South Vietnamese, the men are abandoned on a tiny outpost where they are surrounded by thousands of North Vietnamese troops. After surviving a brutal three-day siege, they lead a daring middle-of-the-night escape through the jungle and evade enemy troops. The film is told by the men who survived, in their own words.
    • “Tom’s War” — Tom Geerdes served as an Army medic in the 11th Armored Calvary in Vietnam and Cambodia. Like many veterans, he returned home a changed man. At StoryCorps, Tom shared his long journey toward healing with his daughter, Hannah Campbell. This animated short features the audio from their recording. World premiere directed by Julie Zammarchi.
    • “Return to Dak To” — This is about the previously untold story that occurred at the end of the Vietnam War. Six hundred American soldiers in the 299th Engineer Battalion ordered by President Nixon fought during the 61-day siege, and half were killed. The other 300 men returned to the United States with no therapy, expected to assimilate back into civilian life. Forty years later, five men who are still haunted decide to return back to Dak To, to further explain their feelings to themselves and each other.

Friday, Sept. 16
UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center
Family Movie Night

Screenings at 6:30, 6:45 and 7 p.m.

  • “Storks,” rated PG, is an animated film directed by Nicholas Stoller about storks that deliver for a global internet retail giant. The top delivery stork accidentally activates the Baby Factory, producing an adorable and wholly unauthorized baby girl. The race to make his first-ever baby drop results in a wild and entertaining journey. Bring the kids and get free popcorn and a bottled beverage with admission.

Saturday, Sept. 17
UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center
Filmmaker Q&A and panel discussions will follow select screenings.

  • 12:30 p.m.: “WWII POW Stories” Film Block (multiple screenings)
    • “Paper Lanterns” — In the summer of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. On the morning of the bombing, a young Japanese boy, Shigeaki Mori, would witness the explosion. He would survive that day and go on to document the bombing and honor the thousands that were lost, including the 12 American POWs. Mori’s efforts provided closure and solace for the families of those fallen soldiers. Directed by Barry Frechette. West Coast premiere.
    • “Forced Landing” — During World War II, more than 100,000 foreign soldiers were interned in Switzerland. French, Polish, English, Russian, Italian, and German soldiers who fled combat found a safe haven in neutral Switzerland. Those who escaped were sent to a detention camp in Wauwilermoos near Lucerne where they would undergo harsh conditions and treatment. In April 2014, eight survivors of this camp received the Prisoner of War Medal, marking the first time this medal has been granted to soldiers that were held prisoners in a friendly country. Directed by Daniel Wyss.
  • 1 p.m.: “Salute to the Navy” Film Block (multiple screenings)
    • “Frogman” — Patrick only knew his father through the life stories he would tell — stories of covert operations as a frogman and Navy SEAL in Vietnam. With each story told, Patrick felt he gained not only a piece of his father but a piece of history. “Frogman” delves into the sacrifices and burdens of a family where keeping secrets became part of the job, and explores just how much we can know someone through the stories we inherit. Directed by Tyler Trumbo.
    • “Farewell to Connie” — A documentary that explores the history of the carrier USS Constellation, which was stationed in San Diego for more than 40 years, as told by U.S. Navy veterans who served on the ship. The “Connie” was so big it became part of the city’s skyline and was a touchstone for the Navy. More than 100,000 people served on the ship, which participated in everything from the Vietnam War to Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf. Part of the filming was done in Bremerton, Washington, where the Connie spent her decommissioned years. She was later towed to Texas and dismantled. The documentary was made for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Directed by Cody Long and Gary Robbins.
    • “Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan” — During World War II, just off Chicago’s shoreline, the U.S. Navy trained over 15,000 carrier pilots on two makeshift “flattops,” both former, coal-fired, side wheel passenger steamers. Not every pilot landed successfully on the pitching decks of the USS Wolverine and USS Sable; many aircrafts went to the lake’s bottom. This is the story of the recovery of those rare warbirds and the ingenious training program that changed the course of the war in the Pacific. Directed by John Davies.
  • 3:30 p.m.: “How We Heal” Film Block (multiple films featured)
    • “Tourist” — This film follows an aging veteran’s return to Vietnam after 45 years. After a unique experience in the war as a U.S. military advisor, the film’s subject provides a largely unknown perspective on an increasingly forgotten war, exploring themes of guilt, healing, and the painful ironies of war. The short film was shot over a 10-day period in Vietnam. West Coast premiere. Directed by Jared Jakins.
    • “Living for the Ones Who Can’t” — This film is a tribute to two fallen U.S. Army Rangers who lost their lives on a mission in Iraq that went tragically wrong. Narrated by Article 15’s own Mat Best and Vincent Vargas, the story focuses on the teachings and mentorship of their former team leaders, SSG Ricardo Barraza and SGT Dale Brehm. This story is a testament to the ones that have led and mentored us in our lives, and how those individuals helped shaped us into the people we are today. West Coast premiere. Directed by AJ Miller.
    • “The Last Time I Heard True Silence” — Upon returning from Iraq, Noah struggles to transition back into civilian life. His attempts to reintegrate are repeatedly thwarted by problems he never faced before. After losing more friends to suicide than war, he finds himself hitting rock bottom so he starts running and he never stops. Now a father and husband, Noah enters a 50-mile wilderness race, pushing his mind and his body to their limits. Directed by Tim O’Donnell.
    • “Operation Allie” — Anthony Marquez, a former Marine and military dog handler, has returned from Afghanistan. He lost 17 friends in the war and has been suffering from the effects of PTSD. When he finds out that the dog that he went through the war with is being retired from the Marine Corps, he sets out to adopt her. This is the story of his journey to be reunited with his best friend and the comfort they can provide for each other. West Coast premiere. Directed by Manny Marquez.
    • “Adventurmentalism” — Directed by an independent documentary filmmaker and former member of the U.S. Army, this is an interpersonal depiction of nature’s positive influence on mental health in combat veterans and suicide survivors struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Directed by Luke Holton.
  • 4 p.m.: “Facing Crisis” film block (multiple screenings)
    • “The Year of the Tiger: JFK 1962” — During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy has to decide whether to put millions of Americans at risk and assist millions of people trapped 110 miles behind the Iron Curtain. West Coast premiere. Directed by Joe Looby.
    • “American Umpire” — Of all military personnel around the world who are stationed outside their home countries, 95 percent are American citizens. Their job is difficult, unpredictable, and often thankless. The statistics have been this way since the last half of the 20th century. “American Umpire” explores how the U.S. took on this role in the first place, interviewing different field experts on its toll on the economy and foreign defense. The film opens up a national discussion about the foreign policy of the United States in an important election year to potentially redefine our national vision. Directed by James Shelley.
  • 6 p.m.: “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War” — In this film by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky III, church minister Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha embarked on a two-year endeavor to rescue Jews and other refugees from the Nazis in Europe during World War II. Their selfless efforts spanning over the course of two years are told through their journal writings in the film “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.” The film will air nationally on PBS on Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. There will be a panel discussion following the San Diego screening.
  • 7:30 p.m. “Thank You for Your Service” — This film takes a hard look at our understanding of war trauma and the policies that result. The film’s director, Tom Donahue, interweaves the stories of four struggling Iraq War veterans through candid interviews with top military and civilian leaders. The film argues for significant change and offers a roadmap of hope. 

Sunday, Sept. 18
UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center
Local Film Showcase
Filmmaker Q&A and panel discussions will follow select screenings.

  • 1 p.m.: Local Film Showcase (multiple films by local filmmakers featured)
    • “Honor Flight: The Ride of a Lifetime” — Follow 42 WWII and Korean War veterans on their emotional journey to Washington D.C. to view the memorials to their service and sacrifice. Directed by local U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Travis Weger from San Diego. Weger is an alumnus of the University of San Diego and founding president of the USD Student Veteran Organization.
    • “The Flying Greek” — Steve Pisanos, a slender boy always with a “No Fear” look etched onto his face, grows up in Greece in 1932. While walking to school, he comes across a gypsy who lures him into having his palm read. Steve’s fortune befuddles him but when a bi-plane fighter from the Greek Air Force flies directly overhead, the experience becomes life changing and sets his destiny in motion. Fast forward to England in 1943 where Steve is now a fighter ace having achieved five aerial victories over the skies of war-torn Europe. He finds himself not only fulfilling what the gypsy prophesied, but grappling to stay alive while achieving a passion he had no idea could be so lethal. Directed by Mark Vizcarra.
    • “Living History: Our Hometown Hero” — Robert Noble, Ret. U.S. Navy Commander, shares his 31-year career as a Naval Officer and Naval Aviator with a group of middle school students in Vista, California. He shares his insights into the importance of education and his love for family and country. Bob was born and raised in San Diego. This film was produced by video journalism students at Rancho Minerva Middle School in Vista. Directed by Jose Roman, Guadalupe Biancas, Victoria Stauffer, Bryson Newsom, Janet Valdovinos, Damaris Robles.
    • “The Light Once Captured” — A young man is looking at some old film cameras at a garage sale. He thinks the camera that has seen war sounds cool, until he gets a glimpse at the past. Directed by Ryan Kelly.
    • “A Return to the End” — A small group of U.S. Marines return to Vietnam 40 years after their dramatic exit from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. Set against the backdrop of Vietnam’s 40th anniversary of the country’s reunification, this story highlights the remnants of war and the efforts made to remember those who did not return. Directed by Pat Clark.
  • 2:30 p.m.: Permission to Speak Freely: KPBS’ Veterans Coming Home Project — This special event features a screening of five digital first pieces from the Veterans Coming Home Project. Veterans Coming Home is an innovative cross platform public media campaign that bridges America’s military-civilian divide through storytelling and public engagement. The screening is followed by a discussion with actors and writers from the local veteran community.
  • 3:30 p.m.: Encore screening of “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy,” the opening night film.
  • 4 p.m.: Military Pitch Fest and Mixer featuring “American Girl” and “Love is No News” — Do you want to get involved in military-themed independent film productions happening here in San Diego? Are you an active duty or veteran filmmaker who wants to work with others on local productions? Are you in the filmmaking industry or have a film project you need help with? Come to “Military Pitch Fest and Mixer” to connect with fellow filmmakers, writers and professionals. This event aims to support and promote San Diego’s military independent filmmaking community through the sharing of information and expertise, as well as developing resources that will be available to local military independent filmmakers. Open to all who participate in the filmmaking process as well as active duty and veterans.

“Military Pitch Fest and Mixer” will also include screenings of the following shorts:

  • “American Girl” — When U.S. Army soldier Julie Morales is hit by a sniper in Afghanistan, she fights to stay alive by clinging to childhood memories of her dangerous journey from Guatemala to the United States via Mexico. Directed by Rebecca Murga.
  • “Love is No News” — The story of a man who owns a newspaper stand in the middle of a downtown city business district. Among the patrons is a stunning woman who he would never fathom to notice him, much less have a romantic interest. But she is indeed drawn to his quirky charm. Directed by David O’Leary.

Tickets to attend the “Military Pitch Fest and Mixer” are $10 per person. Tickets to attend both “Military Pitch Fest and Mixer” and the Closing Celebration and Awards Ceremony are $25 per person.

Sunday, Sept. 18
DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Mission Valley at Hazard Center
6 p.m. Closing Celebration and Awards Ceremony

Filmmakers featured in the Local Film Showcase will receive awards in multiple categories. An Audience Choice Award will also be announced, giving audiences an opportunity to vote throughout the festival for their favorite film.

Check for event updates.

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