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GI Film Festival San Diego Rolls the Credits on Six-Day Event, Announces Award-Winning Films, Filmmakers, and Actors

Award winners from around the U.S. gathered at the film festival to celebrate their work, talent and our military

SAN DIEGO, CA – May 26, 2023 – On Saturday, May 20, event organizers of the GI Film Festival San Diego held the Awards Celebration at KPBS’ newly renovated building, The Conrad Prebys Media Complex at Copley Center. The Celebration brought together over 120 filmmakers, military veterans, civilians and more to culminate the six-day film festival.

Award winners were announced across 13 diverse categories, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Documentary Directed by Military or Veterans, and more. Honorees were selected from the festival lineup of 31 films, with 11 films and two actors taking home awards. In addition to the awards presentation, attendees also enjoyed a hosted pre-reception and post-presentation mix and mingle.

Returning as the event host was Thom Tran, a Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian, musician, radio broadcaster, and U.S. military veteran and advocate. “Being in a room full of other entertainers, veterans and military allies for an evening to celebrate the art of filmmaking was an incredible experience,” says Tran. “Not only did we have an opportunity to hear from and honor the creators behind the award-winning films, but also showed our appreciation for the dozens of veterans that were in attendance. We are thankful to the San Diego filmmaking and military communities for the overwhelming support in celebrating films for, by and about our veterans.”

The 2023 GI Film Festival San Diego Award Winners are:

Best Narrative Short 


Directed by Aron Meinhardt and Julie Pacino

Best Comedy Short 

“Hollywood Post 43’s Last Stand”

Directed by John Mendoza

Best Documentary Short 

“Time for Change: The Kathy Bruyere Story” 

Directed by Daniel Leonard Bernardi

Best Actress

Amber Rose Mason,

“Return to Remembrance”

Best Actor

Lawrence Adimora


Best Student Film


Directed by Daniel J. Egbert

Best Documentary Directed by Military or Veterans

“The Gift”

Directed by David Kniess

Best Local Documentary 

“Ultimate Sacrifices: CPT Jennifer Moreno”

Directed by Daniel Leonard Bernardi

Best Narrative Directed by Military or Veterans


Directed by Daniel J. Egbert

Local Choice Award 

“Echoes of Resilience”

Directed by Alex Frey and Brady Ferdig

Best First-Time Feature Director

Andrea Patiño Contreras


Best Documentary Feature 

“To What Remains”

Directed by Christopher Woods

Founders’ Choice Award

“Jerry’s Last Mission”

Directed by Louisa Merino

Honorable Mention: Founders’ Choice Award

“BY MY SIDE” Directed by Vicki Topaz & Wynn Padula 

“Let’s Talk About The War” Directed by Nick Betts

“The Metalldetektor” Directed by Brendan Patrick Hughes

The GI Film Festival San Diego will return in May 2024. To stay updated on next year’s screening dates, visit and follow the festival on social media.

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 veteran experiences. 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 and/or documentary subjects. 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 CalVet, Military Times, Scatena Daniels Communications, AARP, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Lewis University, SAG-AFTRA, US Bank, the USS Midway Foundation, and Veterans United Home Loans of San Diego.

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