The San Diego GI Film Festival is back.
The annual affair – which highlights films for, by and about veterans – kicks off Tuesday and runs through next Saturday. It aims to preserve military history, bridge divisions between military and civilians, and honor those who have served. After two years of virtual screenings, this year’s event will once again be held in person at the Balboa Park Museum of Photographic Arts.
The festival is presented by KPBS, in partnership with Film Consortium San Diego. Jodi Cilley – founder and president of the San Diego Film Consortium – said the team was thrilled to have the event returned to pre-pandemic times.
“There’s nothing better than sitting in a theater next to the World War II veteran you see on screen or hearing first-hand a film subject about their wartime experience, or even talking to a filmmaker who served in the Vietnam War to finally tell their story,” Cilley said in a statement. “The San Diego GI Film Festival brings our troops and civilians together, and that’s what makes this event so special, unique and an experience like no other. ”
Here’s what you need to know about the GI Film Festival 2022.
What is playing
In total, there will be 27 films: 13 narrative stories and 14 documentaries. Themes include post-traumatic stress, veteran suicide, women in service, and the transition to civilian life, as well as experiences from World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and the present day.
The showcase is home to five world premieres, four West Coast premieres and 13 San Diego premieres. Local filmmakers will also be at the event, including Jonathan Hammond (“We All Die Alone”) and Scott Campbell (“Down on the Ranch”).
From student projects to international films, here are some highlights and their place in the lineup. (Many films will also host panel discussions with the filmmakers after screenings; check the website for details.)
- Opening Night Selection “Dear sirs” is a biography following the journey of filmmaker Mark Pedri, who pays homage to his late grandfather by cycling 500 miles across Europe on the original POW transport routes. 7 p.m. Tuesday.
- “A Long Walk” highlights the unfair treatment of Philippine veterans who were forced to serve in World War II and then denied the benefits or recognition of that service. 5 p.m. Wednesday.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder is central to “HERE. IS. BETTER.,” which provides public access to trauma therapy sessions of veterans struggling with the disease. 7:15 p.m. Thursday.
- Inspired by an off-Broadway play, “Landing Home” chronicles the struggles of a combat soldier in transition to civilian life. 7 p.m. Friday.
- “In Flight Once More” honors the 75th anniversary of D-Day by highlighting squadron members in 2019 who recreated the historic flight journey of these WWII veterans. Saturday afternoon.
Although this year’s festival is held in person, people still have the option of watching movies online. VOD passes give users virtual access to all films, which can be viewed from the day after each film’s in-person festival begins until May 30.
In addition to the screenings, a virtual workshop titled “How to Create a Story on a Budget” will be offered from 1-2 p.m. Thursday. Led by New York Film Academy instructors Sanora Bartels and Crickett Rumley, the free event includes a conversation about creative writing, a Q&A session and a panel discussion. Although open to the public, it is aimed at independent filmmakers looking to create a high quality film on a tight budget.
On the closing night, comedian and veteran Thom Tran will host an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. that will showcase honors in 13 categories. Along with the ceremony, there will be free refreshments and plenty of socializing – the perfect opportunity to reflect on the five-day festivities. General admission tickets are $40 and $35 for applicants, military, veterans, or KPBS members.
In-person attendees must be fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 lab test result before entering, and proof of vaccination or a negative test result is required. Customers are encouraged to download and use the Bindle digital verification app; paper receipts are also accepted. Face coverings are strongly encouraged.
GI Film Festival
When: Opens on Tuesday and will continue until the following Saturday.
Or: Photographic Arts Museum, 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park
Tickets: Tickets are $10 for the public or $8 for military, veterans and KPBS members. All-access passes are $125 (in person) and $75 (virtual).
In line: gifilmfestivalsd.org/2022