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GI Film Festival San Diego Returns to Balboa Park, Honors Military and Veterans Through Cinema

Military-themed film festival returns May 15-20, 2023

SAN DIEGO, CA – Jan. 19, 2023 – Connecting through their love of cinema, filmmakers and movie buffs from around the world will gather together for the annual GI Film Festival San Diego, a multi-day event dedicated to presenting films and events for, by and about military and veterans. This year’s film festival is May 15-20, 2023 and will return in-person at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park.

Nearly 100 films submitted for consideration

The five-day military-themed film festival begins Monday, May 15, 2023 and includes screenings, panel discussions, receptions and will conclude with the popular Awards Celebration on Saturday, May 20. The festival features a diverse lineup of student films, documentaries, narratives, feature-lengths and shorts. Themes tackle a range of challenging topics from suicide to military sexual trauma, as well as captivating films about military history and stories about resilience and hope. The 2023 GI Film Festival San Diego will once again include engaging post-screening discussions where event attendees have the opportunity to hear from filmmakers, film subjects, actors and subject-matter experts. 

Festival organizers received nearly 100 local, national, and international film submissions to consider for this year’s festival, and the selections will be announced in late February. “Our team brought the GI Film Festival to San Diego over seven years ago, and since then we’ve seen our festival grow in demand in both military and filmmaking communities locally and around the world. We are excited to continue to see our festival thrive and bring together military filmmakers, supporters and movie lovers from all walks of life,” says Nancy Worlie, Chief Content & Communications Officer, KPBS.

Films for, by and about our military heroes

The GI Film Festival San Diego’s online box office will open in March. At that time, attendees can secure a ticket for individual screenings or a pass to attend multiple screenings. Tickets for most screenings start at $10 each or $8 for military, veterans and KPBS members. Guests will be asked to observe and follow COVID-19 policies.

“Whether you’re a military spouse, a new filmmaker or someone who just enjoys going to the movies, our festival has something for everyone,” says Worlie. “From military movies told from BIPOC perspectives to untold stories of loss and resilience, the GI Film Festival San Diego has got you covered when it comes to authentic and compelling storytelling.”

For up-to-date information on this year’s film festival, how to attend and ways to get involved, visit If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the GI Film Festival San Diego, contact

From the beginning

Since its inception in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego has presented 236 films from international, U.S., and San Diego County filmmakers, and has attracted thousands of attendees from various backgrounds. The film festival is dedicated to bridging the military-civilian divide with each film selected telling a compelling and unique story. The GI Film Festival San Diego challenges the notions about what it means to serve, goes beyond one-dimensional depictions of veterans, service members, their caregivers and families, and provides a platform for service members-turned-filmmakers to showcase their creative stories on the big screen.

Over the years, the festival has also hosted several celebrities whose films had been presented at GI Film Festival San Diego events, including documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Ric Burns; actor and activist George Takei; actor Matthew Marsden; actor/producer/director Jeffrey Wright; and actor/director Brenda Strong.

Every year, members of the GI Film Festival San Diego advisory committee help review films for the final festival selection. The film festival has active support from several military and veteran-related organizations, such as San Diego State University’s Art and Joan Barron Veterans Center, Project Recover, Travis Manion Foundation, Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Blue Star Families San Diego, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, Armed Services YMCA, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, and the Foundation for Women Warriors. Members of the advisory committee also come from SAG-AFTRA and many have military backgrounds, having served in the US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Army and the Air Force Reserves. Several are military or veteran spouses. All committee members volunteer their time, talent, and expertise to ensure the festival provides an authentic view of the military experience and engages its audience through post-screening discussions.

About GI Film Festival San Diego 

Established in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego is a multi-day showcase of films for, by and about military and veterans. Films featured in the festival reveal the experiences of service members, veterans and their families. The festival also provides veterans and service members with an opportunity to further their creative skills.

Documentaries, shorts, narratives, and feature-length films are presented. The festival includes international and local films. Local films feature San Diego’s filmmakers, events, people, or places. 

Film screenings are followed by discussions with filmmakers, actors,  film subjects, and/or subject matter experts. The festival concludes with an exciting awards celebration, honoring excellence in filmmaking across more than a dozen categories.

The festival is organized by KPBS in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego.

The 2023 festival is sponsored in part by the USS Midway Foundation, Veterans United Home Loans of San Diego, Military Times, and Scatena Daniels Communications.

The GI Film Festival San Diego is a member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative.

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 KPBS 

KPBS connects, reflects and serves all of our communities with trusted programming and dialogue. KPBS delivers this content to more than 1.3 million audience members weekly via multiple platforms, including television, radio, and digital media. As a public service of San Diego State University, education is a core value – from children’s programming to community discussions on important issues our region is facing, to local news coverage. KPBS provides stories that make us think, help us dream, and keep us connected. For more information, visit