The GI Film Festival San Diego, with films and events for, by and about military and veterans, begins Monday and includes a film about a San Diego High School alum who died in Afghanistan.
The festival’s opening night includes Ultimate Sacrifices: CPT Jennifer Moreno, directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker and Iraq War veteran Daniel Bernardi.
Moreno, a 25-year-old Army captain, was among four service members killed in October 2013 when their unit was attacked with an IED in the Zhari district of Afghanistan. Last year, the VA Medial Center in La Jolla was renamed in her honor.
Screenings for the festival, running through May 20, will take place at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Admission costs $10 for most screenings, and $8 for service members and veterans.
Other films featured on opening night include the San Diego premiere of The Making of TOPGUN 2, directed by award-winning filmmaker and military veteran Mark Vizcarra.
The 30-minute documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. Navy’s support of the making of last year’s sequel to the 1986 blockbuster Top Gun.
The 31-film festival slate includes themes ranging from post-traumatic stress to transitioning from military to civilian life, and features stories about World War II aviators, service dogs, and conflicts dating back to the Civil War on up to the war in Ukraine.
In addition, the Moreno film, and another, Time for Change: The Kathy Bruyere Story – about the woman who sought equal opportunities to serve on-board ship and in combat – were shot predominantly in San Diego at sites including Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Miramar National Cemetery and Coronado.
Established in 2006 and brought to San Diego in 2015, the GI Film Festival has worked to bridge the military-civilian divide.
Each film presents a different perspective of the military experience, in an attempt to challenge notions about what it means to serve and move beyond one-dimensional depictions of veterans, service members and families.
Note: Photo credit – The late Jennifer Moreno is the subject of a feature at the GI Film Festival San Diego, screen shot, El Dorado Films via YouTube