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Festival Schedule Announced

Second Annual GI Film Festival San Diego Announces Event Schedule

Events include screenings, panels, Family Movie Night, Local Film Showcase, and Awards Ceremony; All Access Passes on sale now; General admission tickets available Aug. 8 at

SAN DIEGO, CA – July 21, 2016 – Festival organizers are thrilled to announce the preliminary event schedule for the GI Film Festival San Diego to be held Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 through Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. The festival features a variety of films for, about, and by service men and women, bringing the stories of America’s military to life through film.

Many of the events will be open to the public with special discounted opportunities for active duty military personnel and veterans. General admission tickets will be available online on Monday, Aug. 8. All access passes for entry into festival events and screenings are available now for $85 each on the GI Film Festival San Diego website at

As of July 21, 2016, the list of festival events and screenings are as follows. Please note that times and locations are subject to change. Please check for event updates throughout the summer.

  • Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 at 7 p.m. – Opening Night Screening and Reception at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park featuring the 2016 documentary, “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy.” Filmmaker Q&A and a reception will follow the film screening. This thrilling retelling of the fate of the World War II heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis exclusively uses first-person accounts from 107 survivors of the devastating torpedo attack. The film took 10 years to produce. Local filmmakers, Sara Vladic and Melanie Capacia Johnson, will attend the kick-off event. The film made its debut at the GI Film Festival in DC earlier this year.
  • Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 beginning at 6 p.m. – Screenings at The Village Theatres in Coronado. Filmmaker Q&A and panel discussions will follow select screenings. Films to be determined.
  • Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 at 7 p.m. – Family Movie NightVenue and film to be determined.
  • Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 beginning at 12 noon – All film screenings will take place at UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center. Filmmaker Q&A and panel discussions will follow select screenings. Films to be determined.
  • Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. – Local Film Showcase screenings at UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center. Filmmaker Q&A will follow select screenings. Films to be determined.
  • Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 at 6 p.m. – Closing Celebration and Awards Ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Mission Valley at Hazard Center. Join us for the exciting culmination of the festival! 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.

In addition to the “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy,” the following films are confirmed to be screened at the GI Film Festival San Diego this year:

  • “Adventurmentalism” – Directed by an independent documentary filmmaker and former member of the U.S. Army, “Adventurmentalism,” is an interpersonal depiction of nature’s positive influence on mental health in combat veterans and suicide survivors struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War” – In this film by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky, III, Church minister Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha left their children behind in Wellesley, Massachusetts, to join a life-threatening mission in Europe and help save Jews and other refugees fleeing the Nazis during World War II.  Their selfless endeavor spanning over the course of two years is told through their journal writings in the film “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.”
  • “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. “Escape from Firebase Kate” is their story, told by the men who survived in their own words.
  • “Forced Landing” – During the Second World War, 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.
  • “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.
  • “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 aircraft went to the lake 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.
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “StoryCorps: 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.
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “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 Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel,” 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.
  • “The Year of the Tiger” – 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.

The GI Film Festival San Diego is presented by KPBS in partnership with the GI Film Group and Film Consortium San Diego. The festival is sponsored by National City Mile of Cars and Scatena Daniels Communications with additional support provided by a grant from The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation.

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 501 c(3), also known as “Sundance for the Troops,” which is held each May 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.

About Film Consortium San Diego

The Film Consortium San Diego LLC 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 holds the Fall Film Festival, San Diego Film Awards, Winter Film Showcase, Summer at the Drive-in and various other screening and networking events.

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.