Preview of “A Return to The End.” Photo Credit: A Return to The End filmmakers.

The organizers of the GI Film Festival San Diego have released the full 2016 schedule for their film screenings, which includes nine West Coast premieres.

This festival is set for Sept. 14-18, 2016 and will feature 28 films focused on stories that relate to the military. Out of this group of films there were 16 presented in the GI Film Festival held in Washington DC last May. This selection includes several “Best of Fest” winners.

Screenings, receptions and related events will be available at locations across San Diego County, ranging from Balboa Park to Coronado and Mission Valley. The 2016 selections are selected on the national level as well as the local level.

A new event this year, the Family Movie Night, will have three different screening times. This will give parents and families a chance to relax and celebrate our troops. This event also includes a Military Pitch Fest and Mixer to give filmmakers, writers and professionals an opportunity to socialize. It’s open to everyone who participates in the filmmaking process, including active duty military service members and veterans.

Here is a list of the current films on the schedule:

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

  • “USS Indianapolis: The Legacy”: This thrilling documentary tells the fate of the World War II heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis. There are 107 survivors of the catastrophic torpedo attack that give first-person accounts of the event. This film will make its West Coast Premiere at the GI Film Festival.

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016

  • “The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel”: This film tells the story of Peter Ertel, who was regarded as family by his Jewish employers by the end of WWII. His past is explained as a German solider for five years. The man describes his experience as a man in a hatred, destruction-driven time. This film is also making its West Coast Premiere.
  • “Almost Sunrise”: Two Iraq veterans are dangerously depressed for years after they return home from the war. Pushed to the edge of suicide, the two set off on an incredible journey that allows them to find a silver lining amid tormented memories of the war.

    Preview of “Almost Sunrise.” Photo Credit: Almost Sunrise filmmakers.
  • “Escape from Firebase Kate”: In the middle of Nixon’s plan to pull U.S. troops out of Vietnam, there are 26 troops caught in a bleak transition. The men are left to survive on a tiny outpost where thousands of North Vietnamese troops surround them. The fight to survive after a three-day siege involves a daring escape through the jungle in the dark of the night. The showing of this film is its West Coast Premiere.
  • “Tom’s War”: Like many veterans, an Army medic in the 11th Armored Calvary in Vietnam and Cambodia, returns home a changed man. Tom Geerdes shares his gradual journey toward healing with his daughter Hannah Campbell.
  • “Return to Dak To”: At the end of the Vietnam War, six hundred soldiers fought in the 299th Engineer Battalion ordered by Nixon. After a 61-day siege, half were killed and the other half returned with permanent scars. Forty years later, five men decide to return to Dak To and face the source of their haunted memories.

Friday, Sept 16, 2016

  • Family Movie Night: Film to be determined. Bring the kids and enjoy some family bonding time.

Saturday, Sept 17, 2016

  • “Paper Lanterns”: When the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in the summer of 1945, one young Japanese boy witnessed and survived the explosion. He went on to document the bombs and honor the fallen, including 12 American POWs. His efforts would provide closure for the families of the soldiers. This is another West Coast Premiere screening.

    Preview of “Paper Lanterns.” Photo Credit: Paper Lanterns filmmakers.
  • “Forced Landing”: In the Second World War, over 100,000 foreign soldiers were interned in Switzerland. There were French, Polish, English, Russia, Italian and German soldiers who appeared to find a safe haven from combat in neutral Switzerland. However, those who attempted to leave internment were sent to a detention camp in Wauwilermoos near Lucerne, where they endured horrific treatment and inhumane conditions. In April 2014, eight survivors of this camp were finally recognized as being prisoners of war and awarded medals. This marks the first time the POW award was bestowed on soldiers held in a country technically considered ‘friendly.’ The film is also making its West Coast Premiere.
  • “Frogman”: Patrick knew his father from his stories he told about his live running covert operations as a ‘frogman’ and Navy SEAL in Vietnam. This is a story about the burdens and sacrifices a family makes to keep secrets as part of their job.
  • “Farewell to Connie”:  A documentary about the history of the carrier USS Constellation, stationed in San Diego for over 40 years. The story is told by U.S. Navy veterans who served on the ship.
  • “Heroes on Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan”:  In the course of World War II, the U.S. Navy trained more than 15,000 carrier pilots on two makeshift “flattops,” just off Chicago’s shoreline. A story about the recovery of rare warbirds and an ingenious program that changed the war.
  • “Tourist”: A film following an aging veteran’s perspective when he goes back to Vietnam after 45 years. Themes like guilt, healing and the painful ironies of the war, are explored. This is another West Coast Premiere.
  • “Living for the Ones Who Can’t”: This is a tribute to two fallen U.S. Army Rangers who were killed on a mission in Iraq that went tragically awry. This film will make its West Coast Premiere.

    Preview of “Adventurmentalism.”Photo Credit: Adventurmentalism filmmakers.
  • “The Last Time I Heard True Silence”: One man’s journey to transition back into civilian life after he returns from Iraq.
  • “Operation Allie”: A former Marine and military dog handler returns from Afghanistan, after losing 17 friends in the war. When he discovers that the dog he went through the war with is being retired from the Marine Corps, he sets out on a mission to adopt her. Another West Coast Premiere screening.
  • “Adventurmentalism”: An interpersonal representation of nature’s positive impact on the mental health of combat veterans and survivors struggling with PTSD.
  • “The Year of the Tiger”: The important decision that President John F. Kennedy has to make during the Cuban Missile Crisis, is whether to put millions of Americans at risk to help millions of people trapped 110 miles behind the Iron Curtain. This is its West Coast Premiere screening.

And More Films Including:

  • “American Umpire”
  • “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War”
  • “Thank You for Your Service”
Preview  of “Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War” Photo Credit: Defying the Nazis filmmakers.

Sunday Sept 18, 2016

  • “Honor Flight: The Ride of a Lifetime”
  • “The Flying Greek”
  • “Living History: Our Hometown Hero”
  • “A Return to the End”
  • The Light Once Captured”
  • “Love Is No News”
  • “American Girl”

Sunday, Sept 18, 2016

The GI Film Festival will wrap up with a Closing Celebration and Awards Ceremony, which will include an Audience Choice Award so audiences can vote for their favorite film. An all access pass for all 17 screenings throughout San Diego and Coronado can be purchased for $85 on the GI Film Festival’s website.

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