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GI Film Festival San Diego Announces Film Lineup for First-Ever Virtual Showcase

Lineup includes shorts and feature-length films that focus on current events, women in the military, and more

SAN DIEGO, CA – Sept. 14, 2020 – The GI Film Festival San Diego, a military-themed film festival that solely presents films and events for, by and about military service members and veterans, announces a diverse film lineup for its first-ever virtual showcase happening Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, 2020. Films presented are curated by members of the GI Film Festival San Diego advisory committee. The lineup will focus on current events, women in the service, and treatment of Black service members post World War II. Admission is $10 and all proceeds support the festival. Each ticket holder will receive a unique URL that will take the user to the virtual screening room on the GI Film Festival San Diego website. The featured content and post screening discussion will all happen in the virtual screening room. Tickets will be available by Sept. 18 at 

The GI Film Festival San Diego has active support from several local military-related organizations, such as Project Recover, Workshops for Warriors, Travis Manion Foundation, Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Blue Star Families San Diego, American History Theatre, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, Armed Services YMCA, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, Courage to Call, and Joan & Art Barron Veterans Center at San Diego State University. Members of the advisory committee come from various military backgrounds, including veterans of the US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, US Coast Guard, as well as Air Force Reserves and several military spouses, all who volunteer their time, talent, and expertise to ensure the festival provides an authentic view of the military experience and engages its audience through post-screening discussions.

Notable Films Selected to Screen in the Virtual Showcase

The two-day virtual showcase will feature up to six documentary films, including features, shorts and local productions. After each film block, there will be a post-screening discussion where viewers can hear from filmmakers, subjects and local experts to explore the important topics and issues raised in the films. All of the films selected highlight a different aspect of the military experience. From World War II to the Vietnam War to current events, the films selected have something for everyone. A few notable films include:

  • “In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen” tells the story of the first African American pilots of the US Army Air Force who protected the flying bombers during WWII; 
  • “No Greater Love” depicts the combat deployment of the legendary “No Slack” Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, during the Afghanistan War through the eyes of Army Chaplain Justin David Roberts;
  • “The Donut Dollies” is a poignant documentary that follows two best friends and former Red Cross Donut Dollies back to Vietnam to retrace their steps and ask whether they made a difference; and 
  • “She Wore Silver Wings” offers insights into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who served during WWII, told through Jean Landis, a San Diego County resident who was part of this elite group.

A full list of films selected for this year’s virtual showcase is at the end of this news release.

Amplifying Underrepresented Voices

Since its inception in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego has presented more than 164 films and attracted thousands of attendees from various backgrounds. As a community effort to help bridge the military-civilian divide, each film selected tells a compelling and unique story that may challenge notions about what it means to serve and goes beyond one-dimensional depictions of veterans, service members, their caregivers, and families. In addition to filmmakers from around the world, the festival also honors San Diego area filmmakers through the festival’s Local Film Showcase, organized in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego. The festival has also hosted several celebrities that took part in films selected for the festival, including documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Ric Burns; actor and activist George Takei; actor Matthew Marsden; actor/producer/director Jeffrey Wright; and actor/director Brenda Strong.

The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated plans to reschedule the highly-anticipated GI Film Festival San Diego, which usually happens in the Fall. Organizers have moved the full festival to May 18-23, 2021.

“For six years the GI Film Festival San Diego has brought authentic military stories to the big screen,” says Nancy Worlie, associate general manager of content and communications, KPBS. “Not only do the films selected amplify the underrepresented voices of our active duty military, veterans, spouses, and caregivers, but also our local filmmakers who have an opportunity to showcase their work nationally. We’re excited to present our virtual showcase to provide a preview of what’s to come in Spring 2021.”

If you’re interested in submitting a film to the 2021 GI Film Festival San Diego, the Early Bird Deadline is coming up on Oct. 7, 2020. For more information on how to participate in the GI Film Festival San Diego visit

About GI Film Festival San Diego

The festival presents films and events for, by, and about military and veterans. The event is organized by KPBS and partners with the Film Consortium San Diego to present the Local Film Showcase. The festival is funded in part by a grant from the California Arts Council. Additional support is provided by Scatena Daniels Communications. The GI Film Festival San Diego is a member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative.


About Film Consortium San Diego

The Film Consortium San Diego is a social venture that stimulates film and television production in the region and increases networking, employment, education, funding and distribution opportunities in film, television and new media. The Film Consortium hosts and organizes the San Diego Film Awards, San Diego Film Week, and various screening and networking events.


About KPBS

KPBS serves San Diego and Imperial counties with trusted news and programs that tell the stories of our time. KPBS delivers this content to more than one million audience members weekly via multiple outlets, including television, radio, and digital media. As a public service of San Diego State University, education is a core value – from our children’s programming to our local news coverage. KPBS provides stories that make us think, help us dream, and keep us connected. For more information, visit

Film Selections for the Virtual Showcase as of Sept. 2, 2020:

The following films (in chronological order) are confirmed for the GI Film Festival San Diego Virtual Showcase this year. Titles are subject to change.

Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. – Untold Stories Film Block

  • “The Rifleman’s Violin” With wit and verve, 90-year-old virtuoso violinist Stuart Canin recounts his deployment to the German front as a 19-year-old GI with his rifle and violin on his back during World War II. Documentary Short / 14 minutes / 2014 / 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego Official Selection
  • “Rescue Men: The Story of the Pea Island Lifesavers” – The Pea Island Lifesavers was an all Black lifeguard station that performed many daring rescues from 1880 to the closing of the station in 1947. A former slave and Civil War veteran, Richard Etheridge, the only Black man to lead a lifesaving crew, was its captain. Documentary Feature / 60 minutes / 2010 / 2015 GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. Official Selection

Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. – Surviving War: Post 9/11 Story Film Block

  • “No Greater Love” – An Army chaplain looks at combat deployment in Afghanistan and the struggles returning soldiers face. The film shows the experience of war, but more importantly, helps viewers understand the personal struggles of soldiers. Documentary Feature / 97 minutes / 2015 / 2016 GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. Official Selection

Friday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. – Forgotten History: World War II Pilots Film Block

  • “She Wore Silver Wings” – The true story of WWII Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) is told through Jean Landis a San Diego County resident who was part of this elite group that volunteered their services by ferrying fighter planes, test flying new and repaired planes, and towing targets in the air for artillery practice. Documentary Short / 31 minutes / 2010 / Winner of “Audience Choice” Award in the 2015 GI Film Festival San Diego
  • “In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen” – Tells the story of the first African American pilots of the US Army Air Force who flew mission after mission protecting the men who were flying the bombers during WWII. Documentary Short / 44 minutes / 2012 

Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. – Women Who Served in Vietnam Film Block

  • “The Donut Dollies” – Two former Red Cross Donut Dollies reunite in Vietnam to retrace their steps and ask whether they made a difference during the Vietnam War. Documentary Feature / 85 minutes / 2018 / Winner of “Best Documentary Feature” in the 2019 GI Film Festival San Diego