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Film Submissions Now Accepted for Local Military Film Festival

 Film Consortium San Diego welcomes entries from student and professional filmmakers; Selected films will be shown at San Diego’s only festival solely dedicated to military-related films

SAN DIEGO, CA – March 7, 2017 – Submissions are now accepted for the GI Film Festival San Diego’s Local Film Showcase. The San Diego military film festival, now in its third year, will take place at various locations throughout San Diego County Oct. 18-22, 2017. It is one of just a few military-themed film festivals produced in the United States.

Local veterans and active duty military are invited to submit entries on any topic. Local student and professional filmmakers with no military background are invited to submit films with a military theme. Any (national or international) filmmakers are invited to submit a film on military subject matter based in San Diego County or Imperial County. Just as the military is made of diverse active duty and veterans, festival organizers hope to see submissions which reflect a wide range of military experiences including stories from people of different ethnicities, races, genders, economic backgrounds as well as individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+. These perspectives are often underrepresented yet play an important role in U.S. military history and culture.

GI Film Festival San Diego Local Film Showcase submissions should meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • A storyline or narrative arc that is about the military experience within San Diego County or Imperial County.
  • A military themed film that is made by individual(s) who reside in San Diego County or Imperial County.
  • A military themed film featuring more than 60 percent of cast and crew from San Diego County or Imperial County.
  • A military themed film that was shot or edited within San Diego County or Imperial County.
  • A film of any genre or topic made by a local filmmaker who is currently serving or has served in the U.S. military. Local filmmaker should reside in San Diego County or Imperial County.

Submissions are considered for the following categories:

  • Professional/Independent:
    • Narrative Shorts (under 60 minutes)
    • Documentary Shorts (under 60 minutes)
    • Narrative Features (60 minutes and over)
    • Documentary Features (60 minutes and over)
  • Student:
    • Narrative Shorts (under 60 minutes)
    • Documentary Shorts (under 60 minutes)

All submissions must have been completed and released after Jan. 1, 2011. Submissions that meet the technical requirements will be screened by an advisory committee, which is comprised of members of San Diego’s military and veteran community or representatives of San Diego organizations that serve military members, families, and veterans. The committee assesses the entries for thematic and production values, and then makes recommendations on the selections to be shown in the GI Film Festival San Diego 2017 Local Film Showcase. These films will also be considered for the festival’s awards program at the closing celebration. To be considered for the Local Choice Award, the film must have at least 60 percent of the cast, crew, and locations sourced from San Diego County or Imperial County. Competition is open to U.S. and international entries.

The early bird submission deadline is April 10, 2017. General deadline is May 15, 2017. Entry fees begin at $35 with discounts for active and former military, current students, and Film Consortium San Diego Plus Members.

Filmmakers interested in participating in the festival’s Local Film Showcase can review requirements and categories on the GI Film Festival San Diego website:

Established in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego aims to reveal the struggles, triumphs, and experiences through compelling and authentic storytelling. All major film genres will be featured, including documentaries, shorts, and personal narratives. The festival is organized by KPBS in partnership with the GI Film Group and Film Consortium San Diego. Official 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.

Highlights from the 2016 San Diego military film festival included the West Coast premiere of “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy,” a family movie night, filmmaker talks, panel discussions and the awards ceremony for the Local Film Showcase. The 2016 winners were:

  • Best Documentary Short – “American Umpire” – Of all military personnel around the world who are stationed outside their home countries, 95 percent are American citizens. Their job is difficult, unpredictable, and often thankless. The statistics have been this way since the last half of the 20th century. “American Umpire” explores how the U.S. took on this role in the first place, interviewing different field experts on its toll on the economy and foreign defense. The film opens up a national discussion about the foreign policy of the United States to potentially redefine our national vision. Director James Shelley accepted the award accompanied by his wife and “American Umpire” producer and screenwriter, Elizabeth Cobbs. Shelley and Cobbs are Mt. Helix residents. Shelley is pursuing his MFA at San Diego State University.
  • Best Narrative Short – “The Light Once Captured” – A young man is looking at some old film cameras at a garage sale. He thinks the camera that has seen war sounds cool, until he gets a glimpse at the past. Director Ryan Kelly accepted the award and is a San Diego filmmaker and U.S. Navy veteran. Kelly, currently an Ocean Beach resident, began making short films four years ago. “The Light Once Captured” is one of his first films. Since then he has directed and done cinematography on several more. Kelly was the winner of the 2015 San Diego Film Award for Cinematography for his work on the short film “The Reunion,” which was also featured in the 2015 GI Film Festival San Diego.
  • Best Documentary Feature, Local Choice Award, and Audience Choice Award – “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 107 survivors of the devastating torpedo attack. The film took 10 years to produce, including 207 full time days to edit and finalize the documentary. Local filmmakers Sara Vladic and Melanie Capacia Johnson attended the sold out screenings of the film on Sept. 14, 2016 for the festival’s Opening Night and the encore screening on Sept. 18, 2016. Vladic is a San Marcos resident and Johnson is an Oceanside resident. Survivors of USS Indianapolis also attended the festival and spoke to attendees about their experiences. Sara and Melanie accepted the three awards at the Closing Celebration and dedicated them to not only the survivors in attendance, but also all of the crew members, lost and found, of the USS Indianapolis. The survivors in attendance at the 2016 Closing Celebration received a standing ovation for their heroic service. The film made its debut at the 2016 GI Film Festival in the DC area, where Vladic received the Best Female Director award.
  • Best Student Film – “Love is No News” – This short features the story of a man who owns a newspaper stand in the middle of a downtown city business district. Among the patrons is a stunning woman who he would never fathom to notice him, much-less have a romantic interest. But she is indeed drawn to his quirky charm. Director David Oleary accepted the award. Oleary is a North Park resident and is pursuing his MFA in film production at San Diego State University. Oleary served seven years in the U.S. Air Force as a communications officer. He continued afterward to own and preside over many companies having full responsibility for all facets from staffing, marketing, funding, production, and delivery of products in various industries, including video production.

This summer, festival organizers will announce the 2017 festival schedule, ticket prices and venues. Many of the events will be open to the public with special discounted opportunities for active duty personnel and veterans. Additional information is available at

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 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 hosts and organizes the San Diego Film Awards, San Diego Film Week, Summer at the Drive-in and various 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.