GI Film Festival

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GI Film Festival
Location Washington, D.C., Virginia, San Diego
Language International

The GI Film Festival (GIFF), a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2006 by Army veteran Laura Law-Millett and her husband Brandon Millett, is "dedicated to preserving the stories of American veterans past and present through film, television and live special events."

GIFF’s flagship festival is held each May during Armed Forces Month in Washington, D.C. GIFF also hosts an annual west coast festival each October in San Diego in partnership with KPBS.[1] Festival events have included screenings, panels, Q&As, concerts, parties, raffles, game nights and gala awards ceremonies.

GIFF has also produced a live event military base tour, a National Cinematic Salute to the Troops showcased in 400 theaters across the country and a Best of GIFF television series on The American Heroes Channel and The Pentagon Channel.[2]

Venues in the DC area have included the Embassy of Canada, the Anjelika Film Center at Mosaic, the Cannon House Office Building, the Howard Theater, the Carnegie Institution for Science and the US Navy Memorial Theater among others.

Venues in San Diego have included the USS Midway Museum, Balboa Theater, Village Theaters in Coronado, Ultrastar Cinemas and DoubleTree hotel in Mission Valley,[3] as well as the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.[4]

Military-related films from other countries are also eligible for submission to the festival.[5]


The inaugural flagship event was held in 2007 over Memorial Day Weekend at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.[6][7]

The inaugural GI Film Festival San Diego event was held in October 2015 with the British film Kilo Two Bravo as the opening night film.[8]

Notable Events[edit]









  • On May 17, filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick presented over an hour of preview footage from the celebrated new PBS series The Vietnam War. In attendance were several guests who were interview subjects in the film.[16]
  • On October 18, the west coast opening night film was The 2 Sides Project.

Award winners[edit]


  • Feature Narrative: Divergence – A tale told through the microcosm of two wounded people coming together and grappling with the ramifications of war and loss. The film's production team included Patrick Donnelly (Writer/Director) and Meg Sudlik (Producer).
  • Documentary Short: Shakey's Hill – In 1970, one cameraman followed a battalion of American soldiers into the jungles of Cambodia. The mission was to seek out substantial weapons/supplies caches being used by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. As the battalion closed in on the location of the caches, they encountered a growing resistance from the North Vietnamese forces. The film's production team included Norman Lloyd (Director).[17]
  • Best Short Feature: Old Glory – A 22-minute film short for the soldier, veteran and patriot in us all. James McEachin customarily salutes America with another dose of extraordinary patriotism in his directorial debut. The film's production team included James McEachin (Director/Actor).
  • Feature Documentary: Speed & Angels – In 2003, Director Peyton Wilson entered the world of U.S. Navy fighter pilots. Thanks to unprecedented access granted by the Navy, Peyton captured and created the most intimate film ever made on fighter pilots. Epic High Definition aerial footage and stunning cockpit photography provide a dramatic backdrop for the larger story of fighting for your dreams. The film's production team included Peyton Wilson (Director) and F.A. Chierici (Producer).
  • Founder's Choice: Patriot Act – Inspired by the passing of USO perennial Bob Hope, Friars Club roast-master Jeff Ross takes actor/comedian Drew Carey up on an invitation to join the USO in their ongoing mission - delivering punch-lines on the front lines. The film's production team included Jeff Ross (Director).
  • GI Spirit Award: Gary Sinise – Recipient of the 2007 GI Film Festival GI Spirit Award. Gary Sinise is an accomplished film, theater and television actor, as well as a director and producer. In addition to his success in the entertainment field, Gary Sinise also uses his considerable talents to support troops stationed overseas. Along with his Lt. Dan Band (named for his character from Forrest Gump), Sinise has embarked on numerous USO/Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) tours. He has also traveled to both Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, to visit troops wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.


  • Feature Narrative: Soldier's Heart – Vietnam veteran Elliot has held it together until now, but he is forced to redesign his blueprint for living. Old feelings about his experience as a soldier in the Vietnam War re-appear affecting and concerning his wife Linda, his parents and fellow veteran Richie. Certain truths of Elliot's war experience emerge with heart and humor to provide a deeper understanding of his father (a World War II vet) - forge a new path in his marriage to Linda and realize his bond with Richie. The film's production team included Anthony Lover (Executive Producer).
  • Documentary Short: Spitfire 944 – An 83-year-old World War II pilot views 16mm footage of his 1944 Spitfire crash for the first time. The film's production team included William Lorton (Producer/ Director) and Jason Savage (Producer).
  • Narrative Short: God and Country – Spring, 1942. The world is at war. Hitler has swept unchecked across the European landscape and pounds at the doors of Great Britain. The United States learns of a plot by the Germans to break the stalemate with Great Britain using a diabolical new chemical weapon. With time against them a team of three Americans are asked to put their lives on the line and make the ultimate sacrifice...for God and Country. The film's production team included Daniel Piatt (Director/Executive Producer), Leslie Sewell (Associate Producer) and Macario Hernandez (Associate Producer/Assistant Director).
  • Feature Documentary Winner: Brothers at WarJake Rademacher—with a desire to learn the truth, journeys to Mosul, Iraq and embeds with his brother Captain Isaac Rademacher’s Long Range Surveillance Company. While documenting their covert mission on the Syrian Border, he learns first hand about the grueling nature of soldiering, and the familiar bonds that develop between them. Brothers at War gives both an up close and personal view of our soldiers, and a deeply personal view of a family divided, but ultimately, profoundly bonded by the crucible of war. The film's production team included Jake Rademacher (Director/Producer), Norman S. Powell (Producer), Gary Sinise (Executive Producer) and David Scantling (Executive Producer). With an original score by Lee Holdridge and an original song--"Brothers in Arms"—by John Ondrasik.
  • Family Film: The Flyboys – Jason (Jesse James) and Kyle (Reiley McClendon), recent friends from different sides of the tracks, become embroiled in the adventure of their lives when they discover a mysterious airplane at the local small-town airport. The boys sneak aboard the plane for a look, but are forced to hide in the luggage compartment when two strange men show up. Soon Jason and Kyle unexpectedly find themselves airborne over the open Arizona desert. After hours in the air, the boys unwittingly uncover a bomb in the luggage compartment. When they burst into the cabin to report their discovery, they find that everyone on board has bailed out. The boys must take the controls and land the plane themselves. But their troubles are only beginning as Jason and Kyle realize that they've foiled a heist to steal millions of dollars from the mob in this high-action, coming-of-age film. The film's production team included Rocco DeVilliers (Director) and Dan Urness (Producer).
  • Founder's Choice: The Last 600 Meters – The two deadliest battles of the Iraq War occurred in 2004. The Battle of Najaf was fought in the South against the Shiite Mahdi militia. The Battle of Falluja was fought in the West against Sunni insurgents. These brutal urban conflicts were not the high-tech battles the military had prepared for after the first Gulf War in 1991—but they are the face of modern warfare. This film tells the story of these battles, not through narration, but through the words and deeds of those who fought there. The film's production team included Michael Pack (Producer/Director), Gina Pack (Executive Producer) and Leslie Sewell (Coordinating Producer).
  • American Pride Film: SWIM – As a Pararescueman in Iraq, David Broyles's job was to save lives and help those in need, and after leaving the military in 2005, he wanted to continue that mission. He soon found Salute America's Heroes, a charity that provides assistance to severely wounded and disabled veterans. To raise funds and awareness for their needs through this charity, he wanted a tough challenge in their honor. David soon discovered that fewer Americans had swum across the Strait of Gibraltar than had reached the top of Mount Everest. The film's production team included Chantz Hoover (Co-Director/Co-Producer), Gina Pack (Executive Producer) and Matt Cook (Executive Producer).


  • Feature Documentary - Perfect Valor
  • Feature Documentary Runner-Up - Bedford: The Town They Left Behind
  • Best Narrative Feature - Everyman's War
  • Founder's Choice Award - The Triangle of Death
  • Best Documentary Short - A Touch of Home
  • Best Narrative Short - Witt's Daughter
  • Best Student Film - Kapisa
  • Best First Time Filmmaker - The Inheritance of War
  • Best Military Family Film - Lioness
  • Best Short Film - Looking Back


  • Military Channel Award - Shepherds of Helmand, directed by Gary Mortensen
  • Best International Film - The Telegram Man (Australia), directed by James Francis Khehtie
  • Best Student Film - Thule, directed by Robert Scott Wildes
  • Best Narrative Short - A Marine’s Guide to Fishing, directed by Nicholas Brennan
  • Best Documentary Short - Last to Leave, directed by Pat Clark
  • Best Narrative Feature - Flag of My Father, directed by Rodney Ray
  • Best Documentary Feature - Patrol Base Jaker, directed by David Scantling
  • Founder’s Choice Award - The Wereth Eleven', directed by Robert Child


  • Best Documentary Feature - “Lost Airmen of Buchenwald,” directed by Mike Dorsey
  • Best Documentary Short - “Survive. Recover. Live.,” directed by Ivan Kander
  • Best International Film - “Bridges: A Living Graphic Novel,” directed by Miguel Pate
  • Best Narrative Feature - “Memorial Day,” directed by Sam Fischer
  • Best Narrative Short - “8:46,” directed by Jennifer Gargano
  • Best Short Short - “The Jockstrap Raiders,” directed by Mark Nelson
  • Best Student Film - “Stateside,” directed by “Stateside,” directed by Jacob J. Tanenbaum
  • Founder’s Choice Award - “The Red Machine,” directed by Stephanie Argy and Alec Boehm
  • The Military Channel Award - “The Borinqueneers,” directed by Noemi Figueroa Soulet


  • Best Short Short - Fallout, directed by Peter Carruthers
  • Best Student Film - Choice, directed by Michael Chan
  • Best International Film - Gefallen, directed by Christoph Schuler
  • Best Narrative Short - The Fifth Horseman, directed by Kari Barber (VFX Reel)
  • Best Documentary Short - The Real Inglorious Bastards, directed by Min Sook Lee
  • Best Documentary Feature - Honor Flight, directed by Dan Hayes
  • Founder’s Choice - 16 Photographs at Ohrdruf, directed by Matthew Nash


  • Best Short Short - “The Knee Deep Sailor,” directed By Tyler Elliot
  • Best Student Film - “Kingdom Coming,” directed by Alex Fofonoff
  • Best International Film - “Last Call,” directed by Camille Delamarre
  • Best Dramatic Feature - “Field of Lost Shoes,” directed by Sean McNamara
  • Best Narrative Feature - “Fort Bliss,” directed by Claudia Myers
  • Best Narrative Short - “Present Trauma,” directed By Mark D. Manalo
  • Best Documentary Short - “Travis: A Soldier’s Story,” directed By Jonathon Link
  • Best Documentary Feature - “Rickover,” directed by Michael Pack
  • Founder’s Choice - “Riding My Way Back,” directed By Robin Fryday and Peter Rosenbaum
  • American Heroes Channel Award - “Forgotten Flag Raisers,” directed by Dustin Spence
  • Best Original Screenplay - “Christmas Leave,” written by David Brock
  • Best Music Video - “Nothing Real,” directed By Reed Simonsen, starring Veteran Robert Martin III


  • Veteran Filmmaker Award (Short) - "Day One," directed by Henry Hughes
  • Veteran Filmmaker Award (Feature) - "Haebangchon," directed by James William III
  • Best Student Film - "Drone," directed by Justin S. Lee
  • Best International Film - "Who’s Afraid of the Big Black Wolf," directed by Janez Lapajne
  • Best Short-Short - "Beautiful Sunset," directed by Karen Weza
  • Best Documentary Short - "The Next Part" and "Climb," directed by Erin Sanger and Ivan Kander, respectively
  • Best Narrative Short - "Birthday," directed by Chris King
  • Best Documentary Feature - "The Millionaire’s Unit," directed by Darroch Greer and Ron King
  • Best Action Feature - "War Pigs," directed by Ryan Little
  • Best Narrative Feature - "Kajaki," directed by Paul Katis
  • American Heroes Channel Award Winner - "The MIAs on Tiger Mountain," directed by Norman Lloyd
  • Best Screenplay - "Text Messages to God," written by David Bryant Perkins
  • Founder’s Choice Award - "Nomadic Veterans" and "Battle Scars," directed by Matthew R Sanders and Danny Buday, respectively


  1. ^ "About – GI Film Festival | Reel Stories! Real Heroes!". Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  2. ^ "The G.I. Film Festival". TheHill. 
  3. ^ KPBS. "Inaugural GI Film Festival San Diego Announces Event Schedule". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  4. ^ KPBS. "Inaugural GI Film Festival San Diego Announces Event Schedule". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  5. ^ "Canadian soldier leaves family a secret video farewell". 
  6. ^ " News Article: America Supports You: Actor Gary Sinise Receives 'G.I. Spirit Award'". Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  7. ^ Perks, Ashley (2008-05-13). "The G.I. Film Festival". TheHill. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  8. ^ KPBS. "Inaugural GI Film Festival San Diego Announces Event Schedule". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  9. ^ GI Film Festival (14 April 2008). "Hollywood Stars to Celebrate American GIs at the 2nd Annual GI Film... -- re> ARLINGTON, Va., April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --". 
  10. ^ " News Article: GI Film Festival Puts Military in Focus". Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  11. ^ "John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain)". Twitter. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2015-03-06. 
  12. ^ "G.I. Film Festival Review: 'Ironclad' - 'Seven Samurai' Meets 'Braveheart' Hits Theatres July 8th - Breitbart". Breitbart. 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  13. ^ Schwab, Nikki. "Ross Perot being honored at the GI Film Festival". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  14. ^ "GI Film Festival - Reel Stories! Real Heroes!". GI Film Festival - Reel Stories! Real Heroes!. 
  15. ^, The Washington Times. "Judd Nelson advocates for veterans at GI Film Festival". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  16. ^ Wilkens, John. "Filmmaker Ken Burns aims for healing with new documentary about Vietnam War". Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  17. ^ "G.I. Film Festival Announces 2007 Winner | Archives | Veterans Today". Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  18. ^ "Best of Festival Winners". GI Film Festival - Reel Stories! Real Heroes!. 
  19. ^ "And That's a Wrap! Thank You For Joining Us for The 2015 GI Film Festival". GI Film Festival 2015. 

External links[edit]