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Multiple Films in the 2024 GI Film Festival San Diego Take Home Coveted Awards

Award winners announced as festival concludes

SAN DIEGO, CA – May 24, 2024 – After presenting 21 military-related films, the GI Film Festival San Diego rolled the credits on the 2024 military film festival with the annual Awards Celebration at the Museum of Photographic Arts at the San Diego Museum of Art on Saturday, May 11.

Filmmakers in attendance accepted awards across a diverse array of categories like the Veterans Voice Award, Director’s Vision Award, and the Founders’ Choice Award in front of more than 120 filmmakers, military veterans, and civilian film enthusiasts. Ten of the 21 films screened at the festival earned top honors, ranging from animated fare like the Best Animated Film winner “THE SPRAYER” to gut-wrenching stories of healing like the Best Documentary Feature recipient “Final Fight: When the Trauma of War Comes Home.”

Thom Tran, the Army combat veteran turned actor, activist and stand-up comedian, returned to host the Awards Celebration for the fourth year. In between award announcements, attendees enjoyed Thom’s insights into military life, inspiring words, and hilarious quips. “There’s not a single room I enjoy hosting more than the one I’m in every year at the GI Film Festival San Diego Awards Celebration,” said Tran. “Seeing the genuine enthusiasm from the Festival attendees about the films and experiencing the passion from the filmmakers as they accept their awards is such an incredible thing to be a part of.”

The 2024 Award Winners are: 

Best Animated Film:


Directed by Farnoosh Abedi

Best Documentary Feature:

“Final Fight: When the Trauma of War Comes Home”

Directed by Frances Causey

Best Documentary Short:

“We Carry On”

Directed by Sareen Hairabedian

Best Local Film:

“JULIAN: a Jiu Jitsu Story”

Directed by Max Bloom

Best Narrative Short:

“Peanut Butter Shot”

Directed by Paige Compton

Best Student Film:

“The Steak”

Directed by Kiarash Dadgar

Director’s Vision Award (for Best Narrative Directed by Military or Veterans):


Directed by James Arterberry

Founders’ Choice Award

“Interpreters Wanted”

Directed by Robert Ham

New Director Award (for Best First-Time Director)

Peter McDowell, “Jimmy in Saigon”

Veterans Voice Award (for Best Documentary Directed or Produced by Military or Veterans)

“Make Peace or Die”

Directed by Manny Marquez

Women’s Voice Award

“We Carry On”

Directed by Sareen Hairabedian

The GI Film Festival San Diego, the largest military film festival in the country, will return May 2025. To stay up-to-date on next year’s festival dates, selected films, and award nominations, 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, documentary subjects, and/or subject-matter experts. The festival concludes with an exciting awards celebration, honoring excellence in filmmaking across multiple categories.

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

The 2024 festival is sponsored in part by AARP, AMC Networks, Feeding San Diego, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Military Times, Resounding Joy, Scatena Daniels Communications, SDSU Global Campus, Southwestern College, U.S. Bank, the USS Midway Foundation, Verizon, Veterans United Home Loans of San Diego and Veterans Village of San Diego. Additional support is provided by the Navy League San Diego, SAG-AFTRA and The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at VVSD.

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. Film Consortium San Diego 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