The fourth annual GI Film Festival San Diego begins Tuesday with a screening of the new short feature “American” starring veteran actor George Takei.

The film portrays an elderly veteran who works as a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The veteran, who is played by Takei, encounters a mother and her young daughter, triggering events that happened in his past, including his time as a young man in a Japanese-American internment camp and later combat in World War II.

The 18-minute film, directed by Richie Adams, will be screened at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

MOPA and UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center will screen a total of 34 new films through Sunday, Sept. 30.

The festival aims to reveal the struggles, triumphs, and experiences of service members and veterans through compelling and authentic storytelling. Films include documentaries, shorts, narratives, and family-friendly features.

Highlights of the six-day festival include:

  • Wednesday — World premiere of “Thud Pilots” by director Mark Vizcarra, a San Diego filmmaker
  • Thursday — A film block focused on World War I documentaries and the world premiere of the narrative “I Am That Man,” directed by Matthew Marsden
  • Friday — The documentary “From Baghdad to The Bay,” and the start of the crowd-favorite Local Film Showcase
  • Saturday — Stories of recovery, resilience and life after service
  • Sunday — The West Coast premiere of “Trauma,” a documentary about military medics and pilots who adjust to life after traumatic experiences

All of the screenings will be open to the public with discounted opportunities for active duty personnel and veterans.

San Diego became the home city of the film festival this year in recognition of its status as the the largest military city in the United States.

The festival is organized by KPBS in partnership with the GI Film Group and Film Consortium San Diego.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.