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GI Film Festival San Diego Selects 12 Titles for Local Film Showcase

San Diego area filmmakers, locations, and people featured in films curated by festival advisory committee

SAN DIEGO, CA – Sept. 6, 2017 – With just more than six weeks until opening night, organizers of the third annual GI Film Festival San Diego (Oct. 18-22) announce the 12 titles that comprise the festival’s Local Film Showcase, and feature San Diego area filmmakers, locations, and people. Each film was selected through a competitive screening process by the festival’s advisory committee, and were eligible for an award nomination. Films in the Local Film Showcase will primarily be shown on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 21. Category winners will be announced later that evening at the GI Film Festival San Diego’s Awards Celebration to be held at KPBS on the campus of San Diego State University. The Awards Celebration honors the festival’s best from the Local Film Showcase. New categories this year include Best Film Made by A Veteran or Service Member, Best Actor, Best Actress, and the Spirit of San Diego Award.

The following are nominees for Local Film Showcase awards at the 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego:

  • Best Documentary Short: Best documentary film under 60 minutes
    • “Exiled” by Mike Seely
    • “Pearl Harbor Survivors Relive the Infamous Day” by Howard Lipin
    • “USO San Diego 75 Year Anniversary” by David Romero
  • Best Narrative Short: Best narrative film (fiction or based on true events) under 60 minutes
    • “Fletcher & Jenks” by Tony Olmos
    • “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, Still Dead” by Mark Vizcarra
    • “Refuge” by Ryan Kelly
  • Local Choice Award: Best film where at least 60 percent of the cast, crew and locations were sourced from San Diego County or Imperial County
    • “Fletcher & Jenks” by Tony Olmos
    • “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, Still Dead” by Mark Vizcarra
    • “Pearl Harbor Survivors Relive the Infamous Day” by Howard Lipin
    • “Refuge” by Ryan Kelly
    • “USO San Diego 75 Year Anniversary” by David Romero
  • Best Film Made by a Veteran or Service Member: Best film that was made by a veteran or current military service member; film does not need to carry or reflect a military theme
    • “Fletcher & Jenks” by Tony Olmos
    • “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, Still Dead” by Mark Vizcarra
    • “Refuge” by Ryan Kelly
  • Best Actor: Best performance by an actor; performer does not have to be a current military service member or veteran
    • Shane P. Allen for “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, Still Dead”
    • Craig Herdrich for “Refuge”
    • George Jac for “Fletcher & Jenks”
    • Jay Jee for “Refuge”
    • Luke Pensabene for “Fletcher & Jenks”
    • Larry Poole for “Once Guilty, Now Innocent, Still Dead”
  • Best Actress: Best performance by an actress; performer does not have to be a current military service member or veteran
    • Caroline Amiguet for “Refuge”
    • Beth Gallagher for “Refuge”
    • Aimee La Joie for “Refuge”
    • Karenssa LeGear for “Refuge”
    • Kayla Schaffroth for “Fletcher & Jenks”
  • Spirit of San Diego Award: The film that best captures San Diego’s unique military connected history or people; subject matter should tie to a military theme
    • Pearl Harbor Survivors Relive the Infamous Day” by Howard Lipin
    • “USO San Diego 75 Year Anniversary” by David Romero

In addition to the above categories, there is an Audience Choice Award, where festival attendees can vote for their favorite film featured in the festival.  The Audience Choice Award will be announced after the festival concludes.

More About the GI Film Festival San Diego

The GI Film Festival San Diego is one of only a few film festivals in the entire United States to exclusively feature stories for, by, and about military service members and veterans. Films selected for this year’s GI Film Festival San Diego feature diverse stories with themes ranging from women in the military, resiliency and recovery, transitioning, and the LGBTQ+ community. Selections also highlight military experiences from within the Hispanic, African American, and Asian cultures. Wars covered in the films span from World War II to the present day conflicts. Films come from around the United States as well as here in San Diego and range from feature length films to shorts. The 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego features eight West Coast premieres, along with filmmaker appearances, and panel discussions. Screenings will be presented in themed film blocks so audience members can fully immerse themselves in the festival experience.

Tickets and all access passes for the 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego are available at All festival events will be open to the public with special discounted opportunities for active duty personnel and veterans.

Wednesday, Oct. 18: Opening Night Screening at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park

The GI Film Festival San Diego’s opening night screening on Wednesday, Oct. 18 features the West Coast Premiere of “The 2 Sides Project,” a post-Vietnam War focused documentary. The film follows the unforgettable journey of six U.S. sons and daughters as they discover a country and a people with whom they share a common history. In December 2015, American and Vietnamese sons and daughters—who had all lost fathers fighting on opposite sides during the war—held the first-ever formal meetings. The film captures the entire story, not just the transformative encounters, but the profoundly moving experiences these Americans had while visiting the sites where their fathers died, and the powerful encounters they had with the country itself. Director Anthony Istrico is scheduled to attend opening night, as well as some of the people featured in the film. There will be an encore screening of this film on Sunday, Oct. 22 at the AMC Mission Valley 20 at 3:15 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 19: GI Film Festival San Diego Heads North to Carlsbad

For the first time, the GI Film Festival San Diego will conduct screenings in North County San Diego at the Regal Carlsbad 12 on Thursday, Oct. 19. The evening begins with the “World War II Remembered – Part 1” film block at 5 p.m. Films to be screened include “All American,” “Happy,” “The Rifleman’s Violin,” and “We Can Do It: Stories of Rosie the Riveter.”

Friday, Oct. 20: Family Movie Night Aboard the USS Midway Museum

The popular Family Movie Night returns to the USS Midway Museum on Friday, Oct. 20. Family Movie Night is the only family-related event for the festival this year and celebrates military families while providing a fun evening out after a busy week. Title to be determined. Military connected and civilian families are welcome. Festival organizers will work with partner organizations to provide complimentary tickets to local military families, and will announce film title in the coming weeks.

Saturday, Oct. 21 & Sunday, Oct. 22: Additional AMC Mission Valley 20 Screenings

Weekend screenings at AMC Mission Valley 20 feature 17 films, many that make up the festival’s Local Film Showcase. The day begins with a collection of short films remembering World War II at 10:50 a.m. Award-winning feature length selections and West Coast premieres are on the midday schedule with the documentary following the life of an Army veteran who was paralyzed while serving in Afghanistan “American Veteran,” at 11 a.m.; “After Fire,” a documentary that follows the lives of three female veterans at 1 p.m.; and “High Low Forty,” a dramatic feature about two estranged brothers who reconnect on a road trip home at 1:15 p.m. The festival’s Local Film Showcase screenings begin at 3:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. respectively.

The 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego concludes Sunday, Oct. 22 at the same venue with the “Remembering the Vietnam War” film block at 12:30 p.m., an encore screening of “The 2 Sides Project” at 3:15 p.m., and the “How We Heal” film block at 5:45 p.m.

For the latest film schedule with titles and additional festival event information, visit

 GI Film Festival San Diego is one of the few military film festivals in the U.S.

Originated in Washington D.C. in 2007, festival organizers found it only fitting to bring the military-themed film festival to San Diego’s shores. Not only does San Diego host seven major bases between the Navy, Marines, and the Coast Guard, but the city was ranked the eighth best city for military veterans to live. The San Diego festival features some of the best, award-winning films of the GI Film Festival held last May in Washington D.C. and Virginia.

The 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego 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 Kaminskiy Design and Remodeling, City National Bank, Lewis University, National City Mile of Cars, Altus Schools, Bob Baker Subaru, and GEICO Military with additional support from Scatena Daniels Communications and the Maritime Museum. Alaska Airlines is the official travel sponsor.


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, D.C. 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 (15.1, 15.2, 15.3, and 15.4), 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.