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GI Film Festival Runs Through Sunday With Diverse Lineup

More than two dozen shorts, features, documentaries screen at Museum of Photographic Arts

Photo credit: GIFF

Van Anh Vo performing in "The Whistle Blower of My Lai," a documentary screening at this year's GI Film Festival San Diego.

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More than two dozen shorts, features, documentaries screen at the Museum of Photographic Arts

Aired: September 27, 2019 | Transcript

The fifth annual GI Film Festival San Diego opens Tuesday night and continues through Sunday.

If you expect a GI Film Festival to only be films about soldiers and war think again. It’s much more, showcasing 34 shorts, documentaries and features plus 13-panel discussions with filmmakers and experts on a broad range of subjects. As you would expect these are films by and about soldiers but the range of stories and topics are broad.

There is "Mosul" by Daniel Gabriel about the battle to reclaim Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2017. But you can also find Jason Maris and Danielle Bernstein's "Homemade" that follows the 6-year journey of a combat-wounded and highly decorated Force Reconnaissance Marine as he navigates life after war.

Another surprising and outstanding film is Devin Scott's short “The Man I Want to Be” that uses a first-person narrative and 8mm home movies to craft a story about a young boy growing up gay in the 1970s and not knowing how his colonel father might react to that.

The festival also showcases the role the arts can play in processing something as horrific as the My Lai Massacre that happened during the Vietnam War.

David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet, composer Jonathan Berger, novelist Harriet Scott Chessman, and singer Rinde Eckert all came of age during the 1960s with the Vietnam War as a defining event in their young lives. Together they crafted a new music opera, with musician Van-Anh Vo, to explore the tragedy of My Lai through Hugh Thompson’s ethical decision to act. The documentary screens as part of a sidebar called Healing Arts and reveals how art can provide a whole new dimension to our understanding of the Vietnam War.

Connie Fields' "The Whistleblower of My Lai" exemplifies the amazing diversity and depth of the festival. It provides insights not only into events of the Vietnam War but also into the creative process, exploring how even the instruments used can connect to the themes and meaning of the work created.

I will be at the screening to host a post-film discussion.

The GI Film Festival continues through Sunday.

Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.

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