By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–The 2022 GI Film Festival San Diego opens May 17 with films that focus on personal stories of veterans and service members who served in the Armed Forces.
The festival’s first screening will be the 92-minute biographical documentary feature “Dear Sirs.” The film tells the story of a simple man, Silvio Pedri, who spends his life dutifully providing for his family without complaint. When he passes away, his grandson, film director Mark Pedri, and his wife and film producer Carrie McCarthy discover an archive of letters, photos, and documents detailing Silvio’s time as a prisoner of war (POW) during World War II. The discovery inspired Pedri and McCarthy to bike over 500 miles across Europe following the original POW transportation routes to tell his grandfather’s story.
In the film Pedri narrates, “I’ll never know exactly what [Silvio] went through, and I guess I’ll have to be okay with that. I was afraid to ask. I didn’t know how to ask.… So I didn’t do anything. He gave every second of his life for 60 years to his family, and I never stopped to think that maybe he needed someone – someone to talk to, someone to understand that it’s complicated.”
For seven years, the GI Film Festival San Diego has worked to bridge the military-civilian divide with each film selected telling a compelling and unique story and challenging the notions about what it means to serve. The films selected go beyond one-dimensional depictions of veterans, service members, and their caregivers and families to give the festival-goer a peek behind the curtain at the difficulties and struggles that come along with serving one’s country.
All films shown at the in-person screenings will also be available as video on demand rentals (VOD), beginning the day after their festival debut through Memorial Day, May 30. This option gives festival fans who are not able to attend the screenings in person the flexibility to participate and enjoy the films wherever they choose during the rental time frame.
With San Diego’s multi-faceted military history and seven major bases between the Navy, Marines, and the Coast Guard, it’s only fitting that the region is home to the largest military film festival in the United States. Since its inception in 2015, the GI Film
Festival San Diego has presented more than 200 films from all over the world, U.S., and San Diego County, and has attracted thousands of attendees from various backgrounds.
The festival has also hosted several celebrities whose films had been presented at GI Film Festival San Diego events, including documentary filmmakers Ken Burns and Ric Burns; actor and activist George Takei; actor Matthew Marsden; actor/producer/director Jeffrey Wright; and actor/director Brenda Strong.
Every year, members of the GI Film Festival San Diego Advisory Committee help review films for final selection. The film festival has active support from several military-related organizations, such as Project Recover, Workshops for Warriors, Travis Manion Foundation, Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Blue Star Families San Diego, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, Armed Services YMCA, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, Courage to Call, and Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center at San Diego State University.
Members of the advisory committee come from various military backgrounds, including veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, as well as Air Force Reserves, and several military spouses, all of who volunteer their time, talent, and expertise to ensure the festival provides an authentic view of the military experience and engages its audience through post-screening discussions.
The online box office is open with general admission tickets and All Access Passes available for purchase. Tickets for most in-person screenings start at $10 each or $8 for military, veterans, and KPBS members. Opening night cost $25 for general admission and $20 for military, veterans, or KPBS members. VOD rentals will be $10 each. All tickets can be purchased online at GIFilmFestivalSD.org.
The screenings will be held at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park through May 21. Guests attending in-person screenings will be asked to observe and follow COVID-19 policies.