Films that depict heroism and sacrifice. Films about tragedy, redemption, forgiveness, and understanding. Films that address the mental health issues many veterans face daily.

Films about veterans, many made by veterans, and told through the words of veterans.

The 2023 GI Film Festival San Diego will offer all of the above when it begins its six-day run on Monday.

Count CalVet among the proud sponsors of the event, which will include 31 films along with panel discussions involving filmmakers, many of whom are military veterans.

GI Film Festival booth in San Diego.
GI Film Festival you will find films about veterans, many made by veterans, and told through the words of veterans.

“The GI Film Festival is something we support wholeheartedly,” said Keith Boylan, deputy secretary of the Veterans Services Division. “Every day, our CalVet staff members work with veterans whose own stories are compelling in their own right. This form of storytelling can be therapeutic for those who made these films. They can be restorative for other veterans who see them. And they can offer to those who haven’t been in the military some insight into what it is like to serve in the armed forces.”

How servicemembers and veterans are portrayed in film, television, and other popular media deeply impacts the public discourse about who they are. Veterans need a voice in that messaging, and this film festival—organized by San Diego television station KPBS in partnership with Film Consortium San Diego—provides one such venue.

“Whether you’re a military spouse, a new filmmaker, or someone who just enjoys going to the movies, our festival has something for everyone,” said Nancy Worlie, chief content and communications officer for KPBS. “From military movies told from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) perspectives to untold stories of loss and resilience, the GI Film Festival San Diego has got you covered when it comes to authentic and compelling storytelling.”

Of the 31 films, 15 were made by or star military veterans.

A few of the storylines the films and short subject pieces will address:

  • “Brainstorms” focuses on traumatic brain injury.
  • “#IamVanessaGuillen” is the story of a female soldier who was sexually assaulted and murdered at Fort Hood, Texas, as told by another female soldier who also suffered sexual assault at the base.
  • “Jerry’s Last Mission” tells of a World War II pilot with PTSD, who had to come to grips with his hatred for the Japanese after his youngest son married the daughter of a kamikaze pilot.
  • In “Let’s Talk About The War” a combat veteran talks with others about the impact war has had on their lives, the loss of youth and innocence, and the physical and emotional damage it caused.
  • “Not My Enemy” paints a picture of the traumatic and dehumanizing impact of the Vietnam War through the experiences of Black American soldiers.
  • “The Gift” tells the story of Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who covered an enemy grenade with his helmet to protect his comrades in Iraq in April 2004, ultimately sacrificing his own life to do so. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.
  • And “Mariupol Defender” tells of a 20-year-old Ukrainian who lost a hand and leg early in the Russian invasion, received prosthetics in the United States, and then returned home to fight the Russians once again.

For more information about GI Film Festival San Diego 2023, or to purchase tickets, visit GIFilmFestival.

One comment

  1. Michael Van Cleemput · · Reply

    This experince would be nice, if it would travel to the North State of California, namely to the Veterans Home of California-Redding.


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