The fifth annual GI Film Festival San Diego will open Tuesday evening with the documentary “Take Me Home Huey,” the story of a battered Vietnam-era helicopter’s transformation into an artistic message of healing.

The six-day festival begins at 7 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park with the first of 34 films for, by and about military service members and veterans from around the world. Screenings continue through Friday at MOPA, and then move to UltraStar Cinemas at Hazard Center on Saturday and Sunday.

In 2012, Rancho Santa Fe artist Steve Maloney was given the opportunity to create a sculpture to be featured at the Palm Springs Air Museum. The goal was to honor Vietnam War veterans who never received a respectful welcome home after their service overseas.

The canvas he used was the battered Huey #174, which was shot down on Valentine’s Day 1969 during a medical rescue mission, killing two.

The documentary inspires dialogue about post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, and the importance of never giving up, especially for the veterans and loved ones who have lived with the long-lasting personal effects of war.

San Diego is now the only place where a GI Film Festival takes place. All films chosen for the festival were screened and selected by an advisory committee of representatives from some of the local community’s most trusted veteran and military-support organizations.

Individual tickets are available online at $10 for the general public and $8 for service members, veterans and members of festival sponsor KPBS. A pass for the entire festival is available for $120.

Chris Jennewein

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