Skip to main content

GI Film Festival San Diego 2017

Screening of THE VIETNAM WAR scheduled for May 2017

**Free and open to the public, award winning filmmakers and long time collaborators are scheduled to attend, share insights in panel discussion**

San Diego, CA – March 23, 2017 – San Diego welcomes award winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for an advance preview screening featuring selections of THE VIETNAM WAR, their latest collaboration. The screening event is Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego. The event is free and open to the public.

The San Diego screening event will feature specially selected excerpts followed by a discussion with Burns and Novick. The 18-hour documentary will air in Sept. 2017 on KPBS and PBS stations nationwide (watch the trailer). Portions of the series are also expected to be presented during the GI Film Festival San Diego, scheduled for Oct. 18-22, 2017.

In an immersive narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never-before been told on film. THE VIETNAM WAR features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides (see clips here).

“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns said. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart. There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way — from those who fought and sacrificed in the war, to families of service members and POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens. More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.”

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy. Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the human dimensions of the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said. “In addition to dozens of ‘ordinary’ Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many ‘ordinary’ Vietnamese soldiers and non-combatants in the North and South, and we were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us.”

Six years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations and more than 100 iconic musical recordings by many of the greatest artists of the era.

“Our city is home to one of the largest populations of refugees, veterans, and peace activists from the era,” says KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “We welcome anyone interested in the war’s legacy and lessons. With both Lynn and Ken expected to attend, we look forward to a compelling night of film, history, and dialogue.”

Tickets for the screening event are open to the public and free with registration. Registration opens to the general public on April 3 at Event organizers will also make tickets available to partner organizations including USO San Diego, Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, the San Diego Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, San Diego Veterans Coalition, Little Saigon San Diego Foundation, San Diego Public Libraries, and university campuses.

Public questions for the filmmakers will be solicited before the screening via social media, through emails to, and confirmed RSVPs.  Questions will be asked during the post-screening discussion.

“THE VIETNAM WAR” rounds out a trilogy of Florentine Films’ exploration of American wars that began with Burns’s landmark series, THE CIVIL WAR (1990), followed by Burns and Novick’s acclaimed seven-part series about World War II, THE WAR (2007).

Accompanying the series will be a companion book, written by Geoffrey C. Ward, with an introduction by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, that will be published by Alfred A. Knopf, Burns’s longtime publisher.

Funding for THE VIETNAM WAR is provided by Bank of America; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; David H. Koch; The Blavatnik Family Foundation; Park Foundation; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Ford Foundation Just Films; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Members of The Better Angels Society: Jonathan & Jeannie Lavine, Diane & Hal Brierley, Amy & David Abrams, John & Catherine Debs, Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, The Montrone Family, Lynda & Stewart Resnick, The Golkin Family Foundation, The Lynch Foundation, The Roger & Rosemary Enrico Foundation, Richard S. & Donna L. Strong Foundation, Bonnie & Tom McCloskey, Barbara K. & Cyrus B. Sweet III, The Lavender Butterfly Fund.

THE VIETNAM WAR is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.

The screening event is supported by WETA and organized by KPBS as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego.

About PBS
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 33 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About WETA
WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest producing stations of new content for public television in the United States. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NewsHour, Washington Week, The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, Latino Americans and The Italian Americans; documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including The Civil War, Baseball, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and The Vietnam War; and productions by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., including Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Season Three), Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise and Africa’s Great Civilizations. WETA presentations include Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, Pati’s Mexican Table, Sara’s Weeknight Meals, Globe Trekker and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. The WETA studios and administrative offices are located in Arlington, Virginia. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at On social media, visit on Facebook or follow @WETAtvfm on Twitter.

About KPBS

KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving over one million audience members weekly across TV, radio (89.5 FM and 97.7 FM Calexico), and the web with content that is educational as well as entertaining—and free of commercial interruption.

About the GI Film Festival San Diego

The GI Film Festival San Diego is organized by KPBS in partnership with the GI Film Group and the Film Consortium San Diego to promote understanding of the American military and veteran experience and bridge the civilian and military divide through compelling films and events. The festival takes place October 18-22, 2017 throughout San Diego County. Sponsors of the 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego include GEICO Military, Bob Baker Subaru, and Scatena Daniels Communications.  Alaska Airlines is the official travel sponsor.