Fifth Annual GI Film Festival San Diego Opens With Poignant ‘Take Me Home Huey’ Documentary Film
Tuesday, Sept. 24: Opening Night film spotlights Vietnam War veterans, encourages the healing of post-traumatic stress through the artistic transformation of a wounded warbird helicopter by SoCal entrepreneur-turned-artist
SAN DIEGO, CA – Aug. 13, 2019 – The GI Film Festival San Diego, now in its fifth year, opens with a heartfelt documentary short, “Take Me Home Huey” featuring the transformation of a U.S. Army Huey helicopter into a colorful, inspirational sculpture by contemporary artist and Southern California resident Steve Maloney.
The film, directed by Alicia H. Brauns and Christine Steele, delivers a powerful message of healing and captures the poignant project that reunites some of the Vietnam War veterans who used this very helicopter — #174 — in wartime until it was shot down on Valentine’s Day 1969 during a medical rescue mission and resulted in the death of two of their service brothers.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it is estimated that approximately 7.3 million Americans who served in Vietnam from 1964 and 1975 are alive today. However, many Vietnam War era veterans do not share their stories or experiences, and are affected by post-traumatic stress (PTS). In the film, one of the veterans says, “The military teaches you how to fight, but they don’t teach you how to come home.” The traumas of war can leave battle scars which can lead to loneliness, doubts of worthiness and responsibility, and suicide. Projects like “Take Me Home Huey” are very important to help veterans process their experience and begin or continue their healing journey.
About Huey #174 and ‘Take Me Home Huey’ film
Maloney considers himself a “new artist,” who turned to his encore career as a contemporary artist after decades as a successful entrepreneur creating and managing successful businesses in retail and machinery.
In 2012, Maloney, who resides in Rancho Santa Fe and Palm Springs, California, was given the opportunity to create an art piece to be featured in the Palm Springs Air Museum. Inspired by the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War, the sculpture aimed to honor Vietnam War veterans who never received a respectful welcome home after their service overseas. Best known as the “Helicopter War,” the Hueys played crucial roles in the Vietnam War in getting members of our military to safety, making it the perfect element for the “Take Me Home Huey” sculpture. The project featured in the film was created in partnership with Light Horse Legacy, an educational 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that restores and flies old military helicopters to encourage interest in aviation and support and heal veterans experiencing PTS.
“As a Vietnam War era veteran, it was important for me to respectfully honor our surviving and lost veterans while telling a unique story of that formidable time through the power of art,” says Maloney. “Light Horse Legacy was a prominent resource in securing the Huey which was found decommissioned in an Arizona scrapyard. They also located the veterans who were aboard the helicopter before its final flight.”
As the battered helicopter becomes whole, stories of Vietnam veterans and their families parallel the healing journey of Huey #174, and viewers begin to understand what veterans must face finding relief from the trauma sustained during the war. The film inspires dialogue about post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, and the importance of never giving up, especially for the veterans and loved ones who have lived with the long-lasting personal effects of war and the tragic crash of #174 on Valentine’s Day 1969.
“The art primed the pump,” says Maloney. “Huey #174 encourages veterans, specifically Vietnam War-era veterans, to open up about their wartime experiences they were forced to keep to themselves for so long in fear of losing their post-war jobs and being judged. Talking about the experience is the best way to heal from post-traumatic stress. There are so many untold stories that came from individuals who come to see the art and the film. I was proud to listen and help reunite the veterans with each other and the Huey.” Maloney is also currently working on a book which will allow him to share more experiences not captured in the film, including the journey of Huey #174 as an art exhibition in various cities throughout the United States and the people he met along the way.
“Take Me Home Huey” is directed by Alicia Brauns and Christine Steele; Steve Maloney is the film’s executive producer. Maloney is the project creator for the Take Me Home Huey Project. The 56 minute film made its World Premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 2017, and is the opening night film for GI Film Festival San Diego, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. The screening is followed by a panel discussion featuring Maloney and the filmmakers, and a dessert reception. For tickets to the opening night screening and festival passes, visit GIFilmFestivalSD.org.
Celebrating five years of military storytelling and community building, one film at a time
The six-day festival features 34 films, including documentaries, narratives, features and shorts, which will primarily be screened at two locations: Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park and UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center. Since 2015, the films selected for the opening night screenings for GI Film Festival San Diego reveal the untold struggles, triumphs, and experiences of service members and veterans, including documentaries like “American,” “The Registry,” “The 2 Sides Project,” and “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy.” “Take Me Home Huey” continues this tradition for active duty military, veterans and allies to experience the unknown story of #174, its role in the Vietnam War, and the men who served onboard.
Family Movie Night Returns Sept. 6
Excited and eager festival-goers will have an opportunity to take part in the GI Film Festival San Diego’s popular Family Movie Night on Friday, Sept. 6 aboard the USS Midway Museum. This year’s feature film is the action-packed “Captain Marvel.” Guests are encouraged to dress in their best superhero gear to fly “higher, further, faster” with an opportunity to meet Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt, the film’s military adviser and first female combat pilot. Family Movie Night attendees are also encouraged to bring new socks to donate and support local military families and veterans in need.
Many of the festival events have discounted opportunities for active duty personnel and veterans. Partner organizations will have complimentary tickets available for local military, veterans, and their families, including Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, SAY San Diego, the Armed Services YMCA San Diego, Courage to Call, and more. Individuals tickets and All Access Passes are now available at GIFilmFestivalSD.org.
EVENT CALENDAR INFORMATION
GI Film Festival San Diego 2019
Tuesday, Sept. 24 through Sunday, Sept. 29
Screening times vary.
Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park (for Sept. 24-27)
UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center (for Sept. 28-29)
All Access Passes and tickets available on GIFilmFestivalSD.org.
About GI Film Festival San Diego
The GI Film Festival San Diego is organized by KPBS in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego and the GI Film Group. Official sponsors of the 2019 GI Film Festival San Diego include Kaminskiy Design & Remodeling, The Super Dentists, BAE Systems, SAG-AFTRA, and Scatena Daniels Communications. The GI Film Festival San Diego is a proud member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative. For complete details on the 5th annual festival, visit GIFilmFestivalSD.org.
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 GI Film Group
The GI Film Group is a full service media company dedicated to preserving the stories of military veterans. GIFG is the production entity behind the award-winning GI Film Festival (GIFF), a 501c(3), also known as “Sundance for the Troops,” which was established in 2006 in Washington, DC. The festival is the first in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film.
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Film Selections for the 2019 GI Film Festival San Diego as of Aug. 8, 2019:
The following films (in alphabetical order) are confirmed for the GI Film Festival San Diego this year at either the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park or UltraStar Cinemas in Hazard Center. Titles and showtimes are subject to change.
- “#3 Normandy Lane” – Army wife and young mother Sarah Winston’s life is inextricably altered when a series of visitors arrive on her doorstep. Narrative Short / Dir. Brenda Strong / 2019 / 21 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “XVII Carvings” – Marine Corps veteran, Anthony Marquez, is on a quest to create a memorial for the 17 fellow Marines that his unit lost in Afghanistan. Anthony is doing this by carving with chainsaws a “Battlefield Cross” for every Gold Star family affected by that loss. He then hand delivers the carvings to the families. To some, this may just be folk art…to Anthony it’s his new mission in life, to honor the fallen. Documentary Short / Dirs. Manny Marquez and Jesse Larvick / 2017 / Five minutes / World Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “THE BLACK STRING” – After a lonely convenience store clerk goes on a blind date with a mysterious woman, his world begins to unravel in horrifying fashion. Plagued by illness and nightmarish visions, the clerk desperately searches the suburbs for this mysterious woman. His friends and family believe he’s losing his mind, but he believes he’s the target of something far more sinister. Narrative Feature / Dir. Brian Hanson / 2018 / 92 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Rated R / Fri., Sept. 27 at 9:00 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Breaking Point” – A mother and daughter confront each other about the sudden death of a loved one. Narrative Short / Dirs. Coren Benson and Kasey Weldon / 2019 / 6 minutes / World Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Deviant” – In the early sixties, a sexually conflicted teenager finds faith and acceptance after escaping the tortures of electrotherapeutic conversion therapy. DISCLAIMER: This film contains graphic sex-related scenes that some viewers may find disturbing or uncomfortable. Narrative Short / Dir. Benjamin Howard / 2018 / 10 minutes / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “The Donut Dollies” – In 1968, two best friends joined an elite team and flew into a war zone wearing powder blue dresses. They were Red Cross Donut Dollies. These idealistic young women embraced their mission—to cheer up the GIs in Vietnam—with energy, creativity, compassion, and resolve but had no idea what they were getting into. Forty-seven years later, they reunite in Vietnam to retrace their steps; ask why they went; ask whether they made a difference; unlock buried memories; and share their stories for the first time. Documentary Feature / Dir. Norm Anderson / 2018 / 85 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Sat., Sept. 28 at 1:00 p.m. at UItraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “Entrenched” – When four Australian soldiers capture a young Afghani boy spying on their position, tensions rise among them as they decide whether he’s helping the Taliban or simply playing. Narrative Short / Dir. Joey Chebatte / 2018 / 14 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Escape by Sea” – Two Scandinavian soldiers flee the French Foreign Legion by jumping ship in the Strait of Malacca. Their escape will stretch the limits of human survival when sea current sweeps them to open ocean for weeks, without food or water. Based on true events. Narrative Short / Dir. Eero Heinonen / 2019 / 14 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “FINDING SATAN” – Bonded in valor but separated by war’s chaos, a retired soldier must find his military dog, Satan, in order to find himself again. He searched relentlessly to find his brother-in-arms, his battle buddy, and his friend. From hot deserts to dark caves, they served side-by-side each day, saving lives in war. But when a final bomb blast sent Sgt. Ryan Henderson home from Afghanistan, he was separated from his loyal military bomb detection dog Satan, and would not see him again for years. FINDING SATAN relays a story of an unbreakable bond between soldiers — one human, one canine — forged in the heat of battle and remaining forever; and shows the power of healing that comes when two American war heroes are finally reunited. The courage of these canine soldiers who protect us, serve us, and save us is undeniable. In return, from a grateful nation, they deserve the same from us. Documentary Short / Dir. Jondaniel Cornet / 2018 / 14 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “Homemade” – Groundbreaking, intimate, and durational — HOMEMADE is the six-year journey following combat wounded and highly decorated Force Reconnaissance Marine Adam Sorensen as he navigates life after the war. Exposing the effects of Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and addiction on Adam’s marriage, family, and work, Homemade is a story of survival and resilience. The film bears witness to the often traumatic transition from active duty service to civilian life, begging a broader question about our cultural markers of success and igniting a crucial conversation about caring for our returning veterans and their families. Documentary Feature / Dirs Jason Maris and Danielle Bernstein / 2018 / 82 minutes / World Premiere / Wed., Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “The Invalid Corps” – In July 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early launches a surprise raid that takes him to the very gates of Washington DC. The city is in panic. Almost every able-bodied soldier from the Union has already been sent south for the siege of Petersburg, more than 100 miles away. The only defenders remaining are clerks, government officials, and the Invalid Corps. Made up of men injured in battle or by disease, these “hopeless cripples” must hold out for a desperate 24 hours until Union General Grant can send reinforcements. With Lincoln himself on the ramparts, they cannot afford to fail. Documentary Short / Dir. Day Al-Mohamed / 2018 / 28 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “ISLAND SOLDIER” – ISLAND SOLDIER interweaves the personal stories of Micronesian soldiers serving in the U.S. military, following their journey from the most remote islands in the Pacific to the front lines of the war in Afghanistan, and back again. These non-U.S. citizens are fighting in America’s wars – yet they serve, and die, at five times the rate per capita of their American comrades. Through the odyssey of the Nena family of the tiny island of Kosrae, the film humanizes the repercussions of America’s foreign wars, and the changing fabric of a small island nation caught in the tides of international politics, teetering on the brink of economic collapse. Documentary Feature / Dir. Nathan Fitch / 2017 / 85 minutes / Sat., Sept. 28 at 3:30 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “That’s Mine” – Roni is a battalion commander in the armored corps of the Israeli IDF, undergoing a dilemma about his career in the shadow of a fragile marriage. Narrative Short / Dirs. Amit Hay and Ben Shlomo / 2018 / 34 minutes / International Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Last Taxi Dance” – In a ballroom called Paradise, in the aftermath of World War II, a proud Hawaiian singer dances with a returned U.S. soldier and debates the dignity of the American dream. But when his dance tickets run out, she is left with a harsh choice – for when the dancing stops, this man will die. Narrative Short / Dir. Brayden Yoder / 2018 / 18 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “The Man I Want to Be” – “The Man I Want to Be” tells the story of a boy (Billy Nichols) growing up in the ’70s and being different. He’s gay. His father, Lieutenant Colonel Nichols, is one of the most decorated fighter pilots of the Vietnam conflict and a strict, masculine role model. This very personal story of fear and bravery shines a light on what it means to be a man. Narrative Short / Dir. Devin Scott / 13 minutes / World Premiere / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Mosul” – The gritty, thrilling story of local militias and uneasy allies who banded together to liberate Iraq’s second-largest city of 1.3 million people from ISIS in 2017. Documentary Feature / Dir. Daniel Gabriel / 2019 / 86 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Wed., Sept. 25 at 5:15 p.m at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Ocean Station November” – While patrolling an area of the Pacific Ocean designated “Ocean Station November,” the daily routine for the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Pontchartrain included launching weather balloons and conducting lifeboat drills. But in the early morning hours of October 16, 1956, the Coast Guardsmen prepared for the possibility of a mid-sea rescue when they received a distress call from a trans-oceanic airliner with multiple engine failures. Documentary Short / Dir. Damon Stuebner / 2019 / 12 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas Hazard Center
- “Others May Live: American Patriot” – Vietnam veteran Bobby Shelton recounts his time in service and reflects on the bond he shared with his best friend, and how their experiences changed his life. This film is first in what is intended to be a series of “American Patriot” mini-docs focused on sharing the stories of and bringing attention to veteran’s issues. Documentary Short / Dir. Matthew Black / 2019 / 15 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “Polka.” – Near his campsite under a bridge, Kenny makes a discovery that changes his lonely existence and must work to create a space in the world for his new life. Narrative Short / Dir. Andrew Brame / 2019 / 9 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “The Real Thing” – A soldier returns home to meet his daughter, who transitioned while he was on tour. Narrative Short / Dir. Brandon Kelley / 2018 / Seven minutes / San Diego Premiere / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “REDDOG” – REDDOG is a film based on true events of a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan while on patrol with his platoon. During the long hours of walking in the desert, the Marine becomes fatigued and unknowingly takes an unlucky step. While he waits for help to arrive, he goes through a series of flashbacks that give him hope for his chance of survival. Narrative Short / Dir. Will Whitney / 2019 / 11 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at The Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Remains” – In the depths of a Vietnamese jungle, a team of archaeologists and U.S. service members search for the body of a U.S. soldier missing since the Vietnam War. Documentary Short / Dirs. Jose Rodriguez and Joe Day / 2019 / 39 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “A Rodeo Film” – A bull rider who falls out of love with the sport must choose between his family’s legacy of rodeo and his own aspirations of life. Narrative Short / Dir. Darius Dawson / 2019 / 18 minutes / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “SCRAMBLE THE SEAWOLVES” – A ragtag team from meager beginnings becomes the most decorated squadron in Naval Aviation history and of the Vietnam War. Documentary Feature / Dir. Jeff Arballo / 2018 / 107 minutes / Sun., Sept. 29 at 5:45 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “A Serving Story” – Made by two Rancho Bernardo High School students, this documentary short shines a light on the experiences of two military families. Documentary Short / Dirs. Mackenzie Bivin and Zach Camerino / 2019 / Three minutes / World Premiere / Wed., Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “A Soldier’s Way” – A Soldier’s Way follows the story of soldiers Steven Barr (Tim Llewellyn) and Chris Villanueva (Grey Acuna) during a tour in Afghanistan, simultaneously exploring their lives and commitments stateside. Steven Barr is the modern soldier, from his physique to his adrenaline addiction, with a wife Andrea (Molly May Rockwell) and child (Kohen Marburger) wishing they had more of his focus between multiple tours of duty. Chris Villanueva is a combat photographer assigned to Barr’s company during a routine tour in the country, who has a healthier relationship to his pregnant wife, Lacey (Bonnie Gayle), and combat career. The film explores the connection between these two soldiers and their families back home, blurring the line between here and now, much like a dream, as both worlds face a deteriorating reality. Narrative Short / Dirs Adam Dietrich and Elliott Gilbert / 2018 / 13 minutes / World Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day” – A young woman joins a group of D-Day veterans on a pilgrimage to retrace their route from World War II. “Sunken Roads” follows their journey, painting an intimate portrait of these soldiers during their final return to Normandy. The film is a story of intergenerational friendship, offering a new perspective on D-Day by presenting the memories of 90-year-old men through the eyes of a 20-year-old woman. Documentary, Feature / Dir. Charlotte Juergens / 2019 / 90 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Sat., Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “Take Me Home Huey” – This film documents contemporary artist Steve Maloney’s transformation of a wounded warbird into a colorful sculpture. As the battered helicopter becomes whole, stories of Vietnam veterans and their families parallel the healing journey of Huey #174, and viewers begin to understand what veterans must face finding relief from trauma sustained during the war. When the surviving crew of #174 is finally reunited with their helicopter, the Huey is no longer a combat gunship or air ambulance but has taken on a new life as an ambassador of healing, encouraging dialogue between surviving soldiers and their families working to heal old war wounds. Documentary Short / Dirs. Alicia Brauns, Christine Steele, and Steve Maloney / 2017 / 56 minutes / Tues., Sept. 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park
- “Team River Runner: Beyond Paddling” – This documentary film is about Team River Runner, a national volunteer program helping wounded and disabled war veterans heal through whitewater paddling sports. The film tells the story of a group of wounded Raleigh veterans who found healing in the rivers of North Carolina, and in the support of fellow veterans and volunteer whitewater paddlers who are grateful for their service. Documentary Short / Dirs. Takayuki Yamato and Kirk Hewitt / 2018 / 30 minutes / West Coast Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “This One Step” – A young Texan veteran and his wife must re-learn the rhythm of their relationship, complicated by lingering PTSD. Narrative Short / Dirs. The RAY SISTERS / 2018 / Five minutes / West Coast Premiere / Fri., Sept. 27 at 6:15 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park
- “Under the Needle” – A short documentary about the therapeutic effects of tattooing and PTSD. Documentary Short / Dir. Lee Robinson / 2019 / Seven minutes / World Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “Vietnam Aftermath” – The horrors of war never die. The story emerging is not one on the War itself, but on the horrors these men and women now face at home. Their story is of the war after the war: rejection, disenchantment, death, nightmares, and resiliency. More than 40 years have passed since the official end of the Vietnam War. For years, many veterans of this war refused to talk about their experience. As many begin to die out, four Vets that belong to the New Jersey Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial have decided to share their stories for the first time. Documentary Short / Dir. Tom Phillips / 2019 / 30 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Sun., Sept. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center
- “War Paint” – A soldier fights through the heat and hell of the Vietnam War in the early 1960s. Narrative Short / Dirs J.C. Doler and Taylor Bracewell / 2018 / 11 minutes / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts
- “The Whistleblower of My Lai” – This artful, resonant documentary counterpoints the story of one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. military history with the production of a radical new opera about the helicopter pilot who broke the story of the notorious My Lai massacre. Documentary Feature / Dir. Connie Field / 2018 / 65 minutes / San Diego Premiere / Thurs., Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park