Film lineup includes nearly 40 films and diverse filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world
San Diego CA— Organizers of the GI Film Festival San Diego are thrilled to announce its diverse film lineup for their annual festival happening May 18-23, 2021. For the first time ever, the multi-day military-themed event is streamed online. Established in 2006 and brought to San Diego in 2015, the festival solely presents films and events for, by and about military service members and veterans.
A record year for films selected
This year, 38 films representing an array of documentaries, narratives, feature-length, and shorts are included in the lineup focusing on themes such as women in service, the Black military experience, the lasting impacts of the Normandy liberation, post traumatic growth, caregiver experiences, and a pandemic story. The number of films selected is the highest to be included in the San Diego military film festival.
Festival fans, active duty military, veteran supporters, and lovers of independent film can look forward to standout stories, including the documentary feature “The Girl Who Wore Freedom” that highlights powerful interviews with French survivors and American veterans from WWII; “The Invisible Project,” a documentary style info-drama that follows the lives of four women as they work to change the public perception of women veterans in America; and “Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation,” a documentary that salutes the 24.5 million children and millenials who have stepped up as frontline heroes caring for family with tough medical conditions.
By the numbers
In 2021, more than half of the lineup includes films made by or starring active duty military or veterans, 11 were made by female directors, eight were directed by first-time filmmakers, and another eight are student films. Festival organizers also saw a significant number of international film submissions this year, with four making the official selection. The GI Film Festival San Diego also honors local filmmakers through the Local Film Showcase, organized in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego. This year, six films round out the popular showcase, including the return of award-winning veteran filmmaker Mark Vizcarra, whose first film, “The Flying Greek,” screened in the 2016 GI Film Festival San Diego. Other filmmakers making their return to the GI Film Festival San Diego are Devin and Jeanne Scott (2015, 2017, and 2019), Tracie Hunter and Kyle Olson (2018), and RJ Nevens (2015).
“As the granddaughter of veterans, it is important to me to provide an avenue for these underrepresented stories to be told and retold,” says Nancy Worlie, interim general manager, KPBS. “When I helped bring the festival to San Diego in 2015, I dreamed we would create an everlasting experience that showcases the creative talents of emerging and established filmmakers from around the world, and gives the festival-goer a chance to gain meaningful insight into what it means to serve our country. I am very proud that San Diego is the home of the national, juried festival.”
Moving the festival online
The virtual platform will accommodate attendees from around the world – not just San Diego. The festival schedule will feature nightly online showtimes followed by post-screening discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, and subject-matter experts. These showtimes and discussions will provide audiences the experience to watch together and participate in the discussion in real time in a virtual auditorium – all from the safety and comfort of their homes.
Admission is $10 for general audiences and $8 for military and veterans per screening. All proceeds support the festival. Each ticket holder will receive a unique URL that will provide access to the virtual auditorium on the GI Film Festival San Diego website. Tickets are available starting April 1, 2021 at gifilmfestivalsd.org.
In addition to the virtual screenings, all films will also be available as a video on demand rental (VOD), beginning the day after its festival debut through May 26. This gives festival goers the flexibility to participate and enjoy the films whenever they choose within the rental window. Attendees will have the choice to either attend the online showtime for a synchronized watch and / or rent and watch on-demand. Each option requires a separate fee. “This new on demand feature broadens the accessibility of our festival and the films can be seen by a wider audience,” says Worlie. “It’s now even easier for attendees to participate whenever and from wherever they are.”
Bringing together civilians and military through cinema
Since its inception in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego has presented more than 170 films from international, U.S., and San Diego County, and has attracted thousands of attendees from various backgrounds. To help bridge the military-civilian divide, each film selected tells a compelling and unique story. The GI Film Festival San Diego challenges notions about what it means to serve and goes beyond one-dimensional depictions of veterans, service members, their caregivers and families.
The festival has also hosted several celebrities whose films had been presented at GIFFSD 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, films selected for the festival are curated by members of the GI Film Festival San Diego advisory committee. The film festival has active support from several military-related organizations, such as Project Recover, Workshops for Warriors, Travis Manion Foundation, Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Blue Star Families San Diego, American History Theatre, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, Armed Services YMCA, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, Courage to Call, and Joan & Art Barron Veterans Center at San Diego State University. Members of the advisory committee come from various military backgrounds, including veterans of the US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, US Coast Guard, as well as Air Force Reserves, and several military spouses, all who 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.
“Each year I am amazed at what I learn and the people I meet through this community of passionate filmmakers, service members, military allies, film lovers and more,” says Worlie. “The power of great stories is undeniable and the continued support of the community is what makes it possible for us to tell these vital military stories every year.”