Skip to Content

GI Film Festival San Diego Organizers Announce Initial Movie Titles

Produced by local filmmakers, ‘USS Indianapolis: The Legacy’ set to kick off festival on Wednesday, Sept. 14


SAN DIEGO, CA – June 29, 2016 – The GI Film Festival San Diego is back for a second year from Wednesday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. The annual GI Film Festival San Diego will feature a variety of films for, about, and by service men and women, preserving the stories of America’s armed forces through cinema. Festival organizers say this year’s selection of films depict incredible stories that have gone under the radar. Themes range from the experiences of prisoners of war to living with survivor’s guilt. Major wars covered in the films span from World War II to the present day conflicts.


The film festival kicks off with the 2016 documentary, “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy.” This thrilling retelling of the fate of the World War II heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis exclusively uses first-person accounts from more than 30 survivors of the devastating torpedo attack. The film took 10 years to make with more than 104 interviews completed. Local filmmakers, Sara Vladic and Melanie Capacia Johnson, are thrilled to have their film kick-off the GI Film Festival San Diego.


“Helping to keep the legacy of the USS Indianapolis alive has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Vladic. “And having the support of the survivors, their families, and the families of those who were lost at sea has meant everything along this 15-year journey. Now, being able to share this incredible story with our home town, and doing so on the opening night of the festival, just makes it all the more special. It’s an honor to be selected by the GI Film Festival San Diego to help us share the true story of the USS Indianapolis and her crew.”


The following additional films are confirmed to be screened at the GI Film Festival San Diego this year:

  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “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).


All major film genres will be featured, including dramas, documentaries, shorts and personal narratives. The Local Film Showcase will once again be an important part of the festival, featuring the works of San Diego area filmmakers, locations, and actors. The festival will culminate on Sunday, Sept. 18 with the awards ceremony.


“I’m honored to assist with organizing the Local Film Showcase, which highlights San Diego and Imperial County military films and filmmakers,” says Jodi Cilley, founder and president, Film Consortium San Diego. “This is not only a great opportunity to showcase compelling films by or about the military, it is also a chance to support and encourage those filmmakers to continue to tell powerful stories of our service men and women. These stories are an important part of history and need to be documented.”


Many of the events will be open to the public with special discounted opportunities for active duty personnel and veterans. Ticket sales will begin early August 2016. Additional information is available at


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.