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GI Film Festival Runs Through Sunday With Diverse Lineup

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

Speaker 1: 00:00 Films about heroes, survivors, warfare, healing, and much more are playing in the fifth annual GI film festival, the movies, documentaries, and short subjects featured at the festival. Explore a wide range of military themes. KPBS organizes the GI film festival in partnership with the film consortium, San Diego and the GI film group. And joining me now is Richie Coleman, a Marine Corps veteran and one of the festivals advisory committee members. And Richie, welcome to the show. So much coin. It is great to be with you. So what are some of the highlights of this year's festival?

Speaker 2: 00:36 Well, this year's festival consists of 34 films being premiered. Uh, the advisory committee had a very difficult task of neck and down over a hundred nominations in order to determine these 34 that were qualified for this premiere. And, uh, I gotta say that, uh, I've really learned to appreciate how difficult it can be to make a great film. So one that really stands out is a documentary called Mosul. Uh, the executive producer is Daniel Gabriel. His very unique paradigm is having served in the CIA, uh, six tours and Afghanistan and Iraq. And basically he worked through his network of Iraqi's to produce this film. There were no Americans in the film. So it's strictly through the paradigm, the prism of Iraqis, you know, it really helped me to truly appreciate the challenge of working through this sectarian divide that really challenges a country all together. And how the unified in order to defeat ISOL ISIS in the battle for Mosul in what was a just a brutal campaign.

Speaker 1: 01:45 Well, as you say, opening your eyes. That's one of the things I think that the GI film festival wants to do to this broad range of what, of the aspects of, of being in the military and being in warfare and, and having combat experiences and, and, and survivors guilt. So is that why the range is so broad to bring that entire spectrum to the public?

Speaker 2: 02:08 It really serves as a bridge among what I consider to be a very deep and widening gap. Of those, the 8% that have worn the cloth, the military service, military uniform versus the 92% that have not. So what we really have at the GI film festival is a bridge that's built to help explain the world around us.

Speaker 1: 02:29 One of the films that's getting a lot of attention at the GI film festival is donut dollies, and we have a clip from that film.

Speaker 3: 02:37 Our mission was morale for the enlisted man. When you started to describe the program, you would get the reaction of you didn't want, my job was a donut. Dolly was to be as cheery and optimistic as I could. That's what a donut deli is. A gal from home who came and cared neighbor really, really exposing themselves to real dangers. Also the everyday boot

Speaker 2: 03:00 at any given time, they could have been killed. Things like that. They make you grow up and this film follows to red cross donut dollies as they returned to Vietnam 50 years later to retrace their steps. I mean that's, that's, that's one of the ways that this festival broadens the notion of what it means to serve one's country. So again, you have a very broad spectrum of themes. However, what really stands out from me having, you know, sifted through a lot of these that were nominated, including a film such as this one or documentaries such as this one, is that you have really three categories that stand out. You know, there this um, noble service. Uh, there was selfless sacrifice and there meaningful relationships formed. I would say that, you know, this film really depicts all three. Now we also have a clip from another festival film. Others may live American Patriot about the bond a Vietnam veterans shared with the man who saved his life.

Speaker 4: 04:04 Yo, I thought about that day a whole lot when you understand you had somebody take your place, it was caring for you and watching after you. And then the whole process of doing that they died. I kind of had a burden and I think my burden was always is to maybe to not disappoint and uh, try to live, uh, and appreciate it.

Speaker 2: 04:37 You know, one of the aspects of this festival, there are also panel discussions after some of the films and that sounds like one of them that could have a lot of people have a lot to say about it. Absolutely right. So I mentioned Mosul just the other night saw that one, the documentary, uh, and I could have stayed all night long and to hear the panel discussion we heard from, uh, will, will, was a former army medic embedded, uh, with, uh, American forces with the original fight for Mosul who went back as a civilian. Uh, and I could've listened to his story. That could have been a great movie in the hope one day. It will be. But yeah, what became evident for me was to realize how the value of these films is a lot of us, a lot of those, the 8% that have served are really processing their experience or really working through, uh, this narrative.

Speaker 2: 05:34 So it speaks for many veterans again, with that, that noble service, the selfless sacrifice in these meaningful relationships. What would you say this festival means to San Diego's military community? San Diego is America's finest defense community. Uh, we have probably the third greatest number of military members and veterans, any County in the country. But when you think about the concentration, 13% of our per capita are those that have served. So it's, it's distinct. You know, it really helps us, I think, to better understand the world around us, to better express our narrative, our point of view, uh, among those that may be have not served. Now, I have been speaking with Richie Coleman, one of the festivals advisory committee members. That GI film festival runs through Sunday at the museum of photographic arts at Belvaux or park and ultra star cinema in mission Valley for ticket information. You can go to our website@kpbs.org and Richie, I want to thank you so much for your time. Thank you very much more and it's been a pleasure.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.