SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Next week, the GI Film Festival returns in person for the first time since the pandemic to the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
The event runs from May 17-21. It includes 26 captivating films for, by and about military and veterans.
“These films really enlighten the general public about what the military has been through in all eras,” said Nico Marcolongo, advisory board member and Marine Corps veteran.
The film Opening Night is the documentary “Dear Sirs” by Mark Pedri.
It follows his journey to uncover his late grandfather’s past as a POW during World War II.
“He never talked about what happened,” Pedri said.
It was only after his grandfather died that Pedri found old photos, letters and documents detailing his time as a POW.
Pedri and his wife Carrie spent six weeks in Europe, following the original POW transport routes to tell the story of his grandfather.
“I think it wasn’t that he didn’t want the story told, he just couldn’t tell it himself,” he said.
Other films tackle difficult subjects such as military sexual trauma, the transition to civilian life and post-traumatic stress.
“Stranger at Home” tells the untold story of military mental health.
“When I watched ‘Stranger at Home’, it really touched me from my time in Iraq,” Marcolongo said.
The films are raw and unfiltered, offering an inside look at the experiences and sacrifices of service members and veterans.
“There’s a huge audience of people who want to listen. They want to hear those stories and those experiences even though they’re complicated and difficult,” Pedri said.