Categories: Cathy Breslaw, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: GI Film Festival San Diego – Character, Courage, & Talent

GI Film Festival San Diego

Through October 22nd

Article by Cathy Breslaw

KPBS has organized and is host to a three-day military film festival. Often called “Sundance for the Troops”, and “Full Metal Film Fest”, the festival’s mission is to present the veteran experience through film, television programming and live special events. The first event held on October 18th at the Museum of Photographic Arts featured The Two Sides Project  a film following six sons and daughters who all lost their fathers fighting on either side of the Vietnam War, holding their first-ever formal meetings.  On October 19th, at the Regal Carlsbad 12, World War II is remembered with four movies, documenting the personal individual lives of GIs’, family members and friends of those who fought in the war.  All American(Directors Michael Ayjian and Stephen Skeel) tells the story of WWII hero Les Cruise, one of the last surviving D-Day paratroopers, his historic jump, and his familial journey from orphan to great-grandfather, and the family’s recent journey aboard the very same plane Cruise flew on D-Day. The Rifleman’s Violin(Director Sam Ball)  documents violinist Stuart Canin, who deployed at 19 years old to Germany with his violin and rifle on his back. He recounts time served as a musician entertaining troops during the war and his momentous private performance for Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin while they met to discuss the division of Europe toward the end of the war.

Another wonderful film featured the millions of women who during the war, (many of whom were teenagers) joined the labor force to help factories build equipment, planes, and machinery needed for the war effort. We Can Do It: Stories of Rosie the Riveter (Director Scott Bethel) features interviews with several of these women who retell sometimes funny but poignant experiences they had while on the job, and with their families living through WWII. Happy, (Director Mike Dorsey), told the story of Larry “Happy” Powell, a WWII fighter ace pilot who flew 68 missions over Europe. Living to overcome 3 plane crashes, and time spent in a POW camp in Germany, Powell had a dual career of Air National Guard pilot and as an assistant director in Hollywood for film and TV.  Powell at 93 years of age, regales audiences with fascinating stories of his experiences during the war as well as overcoming 150 operations as the result of one of the plane crashes.

Coming up tonight, October 20th, is family movie night at the USS Midway Museum featuring Wonder Woman.

Saturday, October 21st begins at 10:50 am at the AMC Mission Valley 20 with up to 20 films covering WWII survivor stories, films made by or starring veterans, and films about deported veterans. Also on Saturday evening at the KPBS Shiley Studio, there is an awards celebration hosted by comedian and former navy officer Jamie Kaler. This event celebrates local filmmakers, actors, and subjects from the festival’s Local Film Showcase, and live music by the American Flyboys. Sunday, October 22nd beginning at 12:30 pm there are 8 films at AMC Mission Valley 20 with the last performances beginning at 5:45 pm.

This diverse line-up of films during the GI Film Festival highlights not only the importance of our Americans in uniform who volunteer to put their lives on the line every day for all of us but also the character, courage, and talent of these men and women. We look forward to many more GI Film Festivals hosted in San Diego, home to so many military personnel and their families whose commitment to protecting our freedoms do not go unnoticed.

For more information about this weekend’s events and to sign up for updates please visit: 

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.