In The Tomorrow War, the world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight.
Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt).
Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.
Starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers
Directed by Chris McKay
Written by Zach Dean
Produced by David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Jules Daly, David Goyer, Adam Kolbrenner
Executive Produced by Rob Cowan, Chris Pratt, Brian Oliver, Bradley J. Fischer
He may perhaps be best known as Miguel on NBC’s Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning family drama, This Is Us.
Yet actor and Air Force veteran Jon Huertas is no stranger to bringing his real-life military experience to other roles as well. For eight seasons, Huertas starred as detective and Army veteran Javier Esposito in the ABC series, Castle. He also appeared as Ramirez, a Marine Recon Sniper Spotter, in JAG, and retired Marine Sergeant Jack Kale, in NCIS.
A pivotal role for Huertas was in David Simon’s HBO miniseries, Generation Kill, as Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera.
The series offered a unique perspective on the 2003 invasion of Iraq – an event that hit home for Huertas, who served an eight-year stint in the Air Force in both Operation Just Cause (Panama) and Desert Storm (the first war in Iraq) as an aircraft nuclear/conventional weapons specialist.
Bringing even more veteran diversity and inclusivity to the film and television industry is on the actor’s radar and also part of his latest venture.
Alongside fellow collaborator Kenny Stevenson, Huertas recently launched the production shingle, WestSide Stories. He says the new company has several projects in various stages of development – most of them featuring at least one military veteran or active-duty character.
“With our company, we have ‘diversity’ at the heart of every story we want to tell,” he said, “and for me personally, having an active-duty member of the uniformed services or a veteran with a positive portrayal of that type of character is paramount to each and every one of our stories.”
In addition to adding more military/veteran positive roles on the big screen, Huertas is also an advocate for giving Hollywood executives, directors, writers and producers more access to military bases – Air Force in particular – so those on-screen portrayals are more accurate as well.
“One reason I think it’s important to see what the Air Force does is that it’s a lot more than fighter planes and bombers,” he said. “There are so many things the Air Force does that gets overlooked because most stories about a military event or conflict involve the Army, the Marines or Navy, with the Air Force in just an air support role.
“Which is so important…. it’s how you win wars,” Huertas explained, “But it’s also important to shine a light on the other people who volunteer their lives in service of this country. The more we can show people, the more they’ll want to tell stories about it.”
A Born Actor
Born in New York City to a Puerto Rican father and a Caucasian mother, Huertas was raised primarily by his grandparents. He began acting when he was just 10 years old, taking part in school plays. Reportedly, Huertas once had to sing a solo at his strict Catholic school and his performance so moved a nun – who had instructed him to do so as a punishment – that the experience helped him make up his mind to pursue acting.
“The Air Force was an important stepping stone leading into my entertainment career,” Huertas said. “It allowed me to take advantage of getting a higher education, and I found it and the men and women I served with were very supportive and that’s what you need to succeed in this business, and any really, the support of your people.”
Huertas finished his college degree in theater while in the Air Force. He landed his first uncredited role in 1993 in The Webbers, but in 1998, portrayed Joe Negroni in the romantic drama, Why Do Fools Fall in Love? alongside Halle Berry, Paul Mazursky and Ben Vereen. That same year, he landed the role of Antonio in the television series, Moesha, and later played Brad, a witch hunter, in the popular ABC television hit, Sabrina the Teenage Witch – a role for which he was nominated for a 2000 ALMA Award.
But it was Huertas’ role of Detective Esposito in ABC’s police drama, Castle, that earned him and his co-star, Stana Katic, an award for Best Performance in a Drama Episode at the 16th Annual PRISM Awards.
Huertas’ latest projects include a new horror film he both appears in and produced called, Initiation, in May. He also directed a short film that will be debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival in June called, Two Jacked, about what happens when the world’s worst carjacker meets the world’s most notorious armed robber.
Apart from his Hollywood roles, Huertas regularly attends charity events benefiting veterans, including Wounded Warriors and Puppies Behind Bars. The Wildlands Network and the Aware Foundation are other organizations close to his heart. Married in Tulum in 2014, Huertas also enjoys spending time with his wife of seven years, Nicole Bordges.
Huertas believes both his military and LatinX roots have definitely influenced how he approaches his roles on screen.
“The Air Force shaped me and I think that we as creatives can show that there are different ways to be influenced in our lives,” Huertas said. “And serving your country can be a very profound way to achieve that.”
He says his background helps him navigate how he protects his characters by knowing when, who, and how to talk to the right person when it comes to any changes that would help round out or authenticate that character’s objective or backstory.
Huertas says this specifically comes from learning and respecting the military’s ‘chain of command.’
“That chain has always served well,” Huertas says. “I think following a good chain of command helps someone identify a great leader, and you want that person to be supporting you in the success of your character or the story you are trying to tell.”
And while there is improvement in incorporating more LatinX characters in entertainment, Huertas feels much more can be done.
“What we see in the media inspires us both positively and negatively,” he said. “So, for me, I feel it’s our responsibility – and more specifically, my responsibility since I’ve been able to create a small platform – to step up and try to project real LatinX heroes onto audiences in hopes of inspiring more people to strive for what they are capable of.”
Katy Perry, Ne-Yo, And Gavin Degraw To Perform At Livestream Benefit Concert With Alfonso Ribeiro As Host
As part of the kick off to National Nurses Week, which brought together health care workers at Lenox Health Greenwich Village to thank the NYC community for their continued support over the past year, Northwell Health announced the return of Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ in honor of military and health care heroes.
Northwell Health has announced that the celebratory event taking place over Memorial Day weekend will feature a television special, produced in partnership with Al Roker Entertainment, airing Thursday, May 27 at 7:00pm ET on NBC4 New York.
This event is prior to a livestream benefit concert with superstars Katy Perry, Ne-Yo, Gavin DeGraw and a special performance by Northwell’s Nurse Choir, with Alfonso Ribeiro as host, on Monday, May 31 at 7:00pm ET via Northwell Health’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/NorthwellHealth1)
“We were honored to produce last year’s Side By Side television special during the onset of the coronavirus,” said Executive Producer and NBC personality Al Roker. “I am thrilled to continue the celebration, especially as America emerges from the global pandemic and notably during this 20th year anniversary of the September 11th anniversary. This year feels much different – more celebratory but no less important in realizing that true heroes don’t wear capes, but uniforms of service. We tip our hats to the first responders, healthcare workers, and veterans that put their lives on the line for all of us.”
“I am humbled to once again to be a part of Side By Side and pay tribute to those who have sacrificed so much,” said Alfonso Ribeiro, who hosted the inaugural Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ in 2019. “This year we hope to raise funds in support of our military and all those who run towards danger with a night of unforgettable performances, and by sharing stories of perseverance and strength that really demonstrate the resiliency of the community in New York City.”
Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider and private employer, first launched Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ over Memorial Day weekend 2019 in honor of those who have died serving our country, our veterans and active military.
The two-part celebration featured free daytime performances by Boyz II Men, Gavin DeGraw, The U.S. Navy Band and more, along with extraordinary storytelling by veterans. Later that evening, Northwell provided free tickets to hundreds of service members and their families for a special performance by GRAMMY Award-winning, multi-platinum band Imagine Dragons. In 2020, Side By Side: A Celebration of Service™ recognized those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic with a Memorial Day television special and a #HealthcareHeroes Concert series that brought back Gavin DeGraw along with performances by Questlove and Meghan Trainor.
“We are forever in debt to our armed forces, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedoms,” said Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “We must never forget their service. We will continue to celebrate their efforts, along with all of our first responders and health care workers, who risked everything to save lives after the September 11 attacks and again during this pandemic. We will keep their spirits alive as we prepare not just for a return to normal – but a brighter future for us all.”
Since 2006, Northwell has been serving and supporting active-duty personnel, veterans and their families as a proud, military-friendly employer and provider of both medical care and behavioral health treatment for those struggling with PTSD, while also recruiting and assisting newly returned veterans trying to find a job and acclimate back into civilian life. Northwell hires hundreds of veterans a year, and over the past decade has also awarded about $2 million to employees who were mobilized and deployed overseas – funds that represent the difference between their military pay and the regular salaries they would have earned at their Northwell jobs. In recognition of its efforts, Northwell is ranked as the nation’s seventh top nonprofit employer by the veterans advocacy group “Military Friendly.”
“Side by Side was created to show appreciation for our military, veterans and their families who have selflessly served our country,” said Juan Serrano, assistant vice president of Northwell’s Military Liaison Services. “Along with honoring our health care heroes, we are celebrating everyone who has stepped up to the challenges brought on by the pandemic over this past year, we will remember our 9/11 heroes as 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of those attacks.”
About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 830 outpatient facilities and more than 16,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 76,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,800 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
To make a donation to Northwell Health’s Military Liaison Services program:
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are officially working on a new WWII-inspired series with star director, Cary Joji Fukunaga.
He is signed on to direct the first three episodes of the 10-part series. Fukunaga is also in the midst of working on the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die, which has been put off to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Masters of the Air is the name of the series, which is based on the Donald L. Miller book of the same name. It follows American bomber pilots of the U.S. Eighth Air Force who aimed to bring the fight straight to Hitler inside the borders of Nazi Germany. It’s considered to be the third installment of the Band of Brothers and The Pacific set of World War II miniseries.
Join SEALKIDS on April 29 at 5:00 PM MT (7 PM ET, 4 PM PT) for another unique webinar experience with a new format. SEALKIDS Board Member Andy Wirth will interview Act of Valor star Rorke Denver, live in Colorado, and will incorporate questions from our live audience.
The 2012 hit film Act of Valor was filmed with a cast of active duty Navy SEALs, including SEAL Commander Rorke Denver.
In 2006, Denver was officer in charge of BRAVO Platoon of SEAL Team THREE in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in one of the most combat-heavy deployments of any regular SEAL team since Vietnam. He was an assault team leader for over 200+ combat missions. Denver was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for valorous action in combat.
“Once we step off on campaign, once this bird’s ready and we’re downrange, everything back home needs to be in balance. If things aren’t right with the family, let’s make sure we lock that down so when we’re ready to roll, all our focus is on the mission.”
— Rorke Denver as Lt. Rorke, Act of Valor
Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to hear about the real SEALs and real stories that inspired the movie.
Act of Valor is available to stream on Netflix.
See the trailer below and watch the entire film to prepare for the webinar!
After an incredible theatrical launch as venues re-opened throughout the US, the feature-length drama MY BROTHER’S KEEPER is preparing to release to home entertainment. The film shares a powerful story of faith and forgiveness in the wake of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In a partnership between Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Collide Distribution, MY BROTHER’S KEEPER will release on DVD and all major VOD platforms on May 11, 2021.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER was directed by Kevan Otto (A QUESTION OF FAITH, FORGIVEN) and written by US Army Veteran Ty Manns (A QUESTION OF FAITH, THE 5TH QUARTER). The film stars TC Stallings (WAR ROOM, A QUESTION OF FAITH), Joey Lawrence (Melissa & Joey, Blossom, Hawaii Five-0), Robert Ri’chard (COACH CARTER, Empire), and Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show).
“It was so encouraging that many theaters across the US re-opened their theaters with MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, a desperately needed story of hope,” shares Manns. “It is also an incredible honor that the film was able to play on military bases and at the National Infantry Museum. We pray that, as the film becomes available to larger audiences through home entertainment, the story continues to give encouragement to those struggling with issues of PTSD, forgiveness, and loss. A reminder that, no matter what the situation, there is always hope.”
FILM SYNOPSIS: MY BROTHER’S KEEPER shares the story of returning war veteran SFC Travis Fox (TC Stallings) who has one more battle to fight – PTSD. Fox and his best friend SFC Ron “Preach” Pearcy (Joey Lawrence) are in their 6th combat deployment when Preach and his entire Ranger platoon are killed in a deadly improvised explosive device attack. Travis returns to his hometown to settle the affairs of his parents who had passed away years before. In searching for answers about his parents, he also discovers a new obstacle in PTSD. He finds support from church counselor, Tiffany Robertson (Keshia Knight-Pulliam) and slowly begins to rediscover his faith in God, until he discovers a secret. Travis uncovers a secret hidden by his best friend Donnie Berry (Robert Ri’chard) that threatens his new-found faith, restores his guilt, and causes him to consider the unthinkable.
About Manns Mackie Studios:
Manns Mackie Studios is a concept-to-consumer feature- film production company that specializes in family and faith-based films.
About Collide Distribution:
Collide Distribution, a division of Collide Media Group, specializes in downstreaming home entertainment distribution through UPHE Content Group. Collide Media Group was formed in 2016 by veteran Christian entertainment marketing executive Bob Elder with a mission dedicated to “elevating media that inspires a deeper relationship with Christ.” The Collide team has worked on over 50 Faith-Based films, creating and executing marketing campaigns that have generated billions of impressions and resulted in hundreds of millions of ticket transactions. The Group is officed in historic downtown Franklin Tennessee.
About Universal Pictures Content Group:
Headquartered in London, Universal Pictures Content Group is a repertoire centre acquiring and producing multi-genre entertainment for distribution across theatrical, home entertainment, television and digital platforms on a worldwide basis. Universal Pictures Content Group a unit of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG). UFEG produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide in various media formats for theatrical, home entertainment, television and other distribution platforms, as well as consumer products, interactive gaming and live entertainment. The global division includes Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, Fandango and DreamWorks Animation Film and Television. UFEG is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.
Three current and retired U.S. Air Force airmen will be appearing as contestants on Wheel of Fortune as part of “Home Sweet Home” week airing April 26-30, 2021.
During this exciting week of shows, Wheel of Fortune and Latitude Margaritaville are giving all contestants the opportunity to win a new home valued at $375,000 in Latitude Margaritaville, a 55-and-better active adult community.
First at the Wheel will be retired Master Sgt. Al Yankee of Redlands, Calif., who is competing on Tuesday, April 27. Al is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served for 16 years in the band and in public affairs. He has been married to his wife for 18 years and they have one adult son. Al now works as a college music instructor and enjoys exploring the walking trails and microbreweries in his local area. He has been a fan of the show as long as he can remember and watches nightly with his wife. Al applied to be a contestant at WheelofFortune.com with a video submission and then participated in a virtual audition. Any cash winnings, he plans to use for a future trip.
On Wednesday, April 28, U.S. Air Force veteran, Kevin Williams, from Bakersfield, Calif., will be a contestant. Kevin served for nearly 10 years in the U.S. Air Force and now runs his own business. His is single with one son and is currently using his down time to build a camper van. He’s been a Wheel Watcher for over 30 years and tried out to be a contestant at a Wheelmobile event before the pandemic.
Closing out the week on Friday, April 30, First Lieutenant Nick Aguilera of Apple Valley, Calif. will try his luck. Nick is an active duty space propulsion physicist for the Space and Missile Systems Center at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. He is married with two sons and has a charitable heart. “I’ve always enjoyed giving back to my community in one way or another, either as a teacher before I joined the Air Force or as a youth wrestling coach,” he says. He also enjoys performing in his local community theater productions. Nick has been watching Wheel of Fortune for over 30 years and currently watches with his family. Nick hopes win enough cash winnings to put towards a down payment on a home or purchase on a new car!
WHERE TO WATCH: Check your local listings for time and network.
In conjunction with the week of shows, viewers will once again be given the opportunity to win a new home of their own with the “Home Sweet Home Giveaway.” To enter, all viewers have to do is tune in to Wheel of Fortune each night April 26-30, take note of the bonus round puzzle solution and input it at www.wheeloffortune.com for an entry. Winners will be chosen at random. In addition to the grand prize of a house, 20 Margaritaville Adirondack chairs will be given away as first prizes. For more information, visit www.wheeloffortune.com.
Wheel of Fortune fans can submit applications at https://www.wheeloffortune.com/join/be-a-contestant for a chance to be invited to a virtual audition. There, potential contestants can show off their puzzle-solving skills and potentially be selected to appear as a contestant on the show from the comfort of their own homes. If selected to be on the show, everyone goes home with a minimum of $1,000.
Organizers of the GI Film Festival San Diego are thrilled to announce its diverse film lineup for their annual festival happening May 18-23, 2021.
For the first time ever, the multi-day military-themed event is streamed online. Established in 2006 and brought to San Diego in 2015, the festival solely presents films and events for, by and about military service members and veterans.
A record year for films selected
This year, 38 films representing an array of documentaries, narratives, feature-length, and shorts are included in the lineup focusing on themes such as women in service, the Black military experience, the lasting impacts of the Normandy liberation, post traumatic growth, caregiver experiences, and a pandemic story. The number of films selected is the highest to be included in the San Diego military film festival.
Festival fans, active duty military, veteran supporters, and lovers of independent film can look forward to standout stories, including the documentary feature “The Girl Who Wore Freedom” that highlights powerful interviews with French survivors and American veterans from WWII; “The Invisible Project,” a documentary style info-drama that follows the lives of four women as they work to change the public perception of women veterans in America; and “Sky Blossom: Diaries of the Next Greatest Generation,” a documentary that salutes the 24.5 million children and millenials who have stepped up as frontline heroes caring for family with tough medical conditions.
A full list of films selected for this year’s festival is at the end of this news release.
By the numbers
In 2021, more than half of the lineup includes films made by or starring active duty military or veterans, 11 were made by female directors, eight were directed by first-time filmmakers, and another eight are student films. Festival organizers also saw a significant number of international film submissions this year, with four making the official selection. The GI Film Festival San Diego also honors local filmmakers through the Local Film Showcase, organized in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego. This year, six films round out the popular showcase, including the return of award-winning veteran filmmaker Mark Vizcarra, whose first film, “The Flying Greek,” screened in the 2016 GI Film Festival San Diego. Other filmmakers making their return to the GI Film Festival San Diego are Devin and Jeanne Scott (2015, 2017, and 2019), Tracie Hunter and Kyle Olson (2018), and RJ Nevens (2015).
“As the granddaughter of veterans, it is important to me to provide an avenue for these underrepresented stories to be told and retold,” says Nancy Worlie, interim general manager, KPBS. “When I helped bring the festival to San Diego in 2015, I dreamed we would create an everlasting experience that showcases the creative talents of emerging and established filmmakers from around the world, and gives the festival-goer a chance to gain meaningful insight into what it means to serve our country. I am very proud that San Diego is the home of the national, juried festival.”
Moving the festival online
The virtual platform will accommodate attendees from around the world – not just San Diego. The festival schedule will feature nightly online showtimes followed by post-screening discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, and subject-matter experts. These showtimes and discussions will provide audiences the experience to watch together and participate in the discussion in real time in a virtual auditorium – all from the safety and comfort of their homes.
Admission is $10 for general audiences and $8 for military and veterans per screening. All proceeds support the festival. Each ticket holder will receive a unique URL that will provide access to the virtual auditorium on the GI Film Festival San Diego website. Tickets are available starting April 1, 2021 at gifilmfestivalsd.org.
In addition to the virtual screenings, all films will also be available as a video on demand rental (VOD), beginning the day after its festival debut through May 26. This gives festival goers the flexibility to participate and enjoy the films whenever they choose within the rental window. Attendees will have the choice to either attend the online showtime for a synchronized watch and / or rent and watch on-demand. Each option requires a separate fee. “This new on demand feature broadens the accessibility of our festival and the films can be seen by a wider audience,” says Worlie. “It’s now even easier for attendees to participate whenever and from wherever they are.”
Bringing together civilians and military through cinema
Since its inception in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego has presented more than 170 films from international, U.S., and San Diego County, and has attracted thousands of attendees from various backgrounds. To help bridge the military-civilian divide, each film selected tells a compelling and unique story. The GI Film Festival San Diego challenges notions about what it means to serve and goes beyond one-dimensional depictions of veterans, service members, their caregivers and families.
The festival has also hosted several celebrities whose films had been presented at GIFFSD 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, films selected for the festival are curated by members of the GI Film Festival San Diego advisory committee. 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, American History Theatre, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, Armed Services YMCA, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, Courage to Call, and Joan & Art Barron Veterans Center at San Diego State University. Members of the advisory committee come from various military backgrounds, including veterans of the US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, US Coast Guard, as well as Air Force Reserves, and several military spouses, all 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.
“Each year I am amazed at what I learn and the people I meet through this community of passionate filmmakers, service members, military allies, film lovers and more,” says Worlie. “The power of great stories is undeniable and the continued support of the community is what makes it possible for us to tell these vital military stories every year.”
About GI Film Festival San Diego
The festival presents films and events for, by, and about military and veterans. The event is organized by KPBS and partners with the Film Consortium San Diego to present the Local Film Showcase. The festival is funded in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and is sponsored by National University and Scatena Daniels Communications. The GI Film Festival San Diego is an active member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative.
About Film Consortium San Diego
The Film Consortium San Diego is a social venture that stimulates film and television production in the region and increases networking, employment, education, funding and distribution opportunities in film, television and new media. The Film Consortium hosts and organizes the San Diego Film Awards, San Diego Film Week, and various screening and networking events.
KPBS serves San Diego and Imperial counties with trusted news and programs that tell the stories of our time. KPBS delivers this content to more than one million audience members weekly via multiple outlets, including television, radio, and digital media. As a public service of San Diego State University, education is a core value – from our children’s programming to our local news coverage. KPBS provides stories that make us think, help us dream, and keep us connected. For more information, visit kpbs.org.
Film Selections for the GI Film Festival San Diego as of March 25, 2021:
The following films (in alphabetical order) are confirmed for this year’s virtual GI Film Festival San Diego. Titles are subject to change.
“The 11th Order” – The true story of two U.S. Marines who, in a span of six seconds, must stand their ground to stop a suicide truck bomb and protect the lives of the 150 Marines and Iraqi Police behind them. Less about glorifying warfare or the true event itself, our film aims to provide context to the unimaginable: to show these young men as ordinary people put in extraordinary circumstances, and explain why there was never doubt in their actions that fateful morning.
Narrative Short / Directed by Joshua DeFour / 25 minutes / 2019 / USA / Local Film Showcase / Student Film / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
“Actions Speak Louder than Medals – the Royce Williams Story” – On 18 November, 1952, Royce Williams found himself alone in an aerial duel against SEVEN superior, aggressively flown Russian MiGs. In the 38 minutes that followed, he bested at least four and just-barely brought his wounded F9F Panther back to the carrier….where he was promptly told that what had just happened “didn’t.” True to his values, Royce put the spectacular event out of his mind and continued his service, quietly, humbly — only telling his wife when informed (over FIFTY YEARS LATER) that the moment was now “unclassified.” Today, at age 95, Royce is finally (and somewhat bewildered by) the attention he deserves. But behind every great hero story is an even greater back-story proving out that the actions behind great deeds are their own reward. Documentary Short / Directed by John Mollison / 20 minutes / 2020 / USA
“Alene B. Duerk: The First Woman Admiral” – “Alene B. Duerk: The First Woman Admiral” is a short documentary that tells the story of how Alene Duerk overcame gender stereotypes in the military to accomplish the highest rank ever achieved by a woman in the history of the US Navy. Documentary Short / Directed by Eliciana Nascimento / Nine minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
“Amazing Grace” – “Amazing Grace” tells the story of a young woman looking after her father, a Vietnam Veteran struggling with alcoholism and PTSD, in which dealing with the challenges of everyday life can require an extraordinary amount of patience, understanding, love… and grace.
Narrative Short / Directed by Nina Brissey / 23 minutes / 2020 / USA
“A Band to Honor” – Using archival footage, photographs, and personal interviews, “A Band to Honor” tells the story of 21 young naval musicians. These individuals were among the 1,177 USS Arizona members who lost their lives when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. As the day of infamy arrives, an incredible account of the attack on Pearl Harbor is offered with an extraordinary animation sequence and the eyewitness testimony of three Pearl Harbor survivors, two of which were crewmembers of the USS Arizona. The tragic final minutes of the band are detailed, clearing up the many misconceptions about the USS Arizona Band’s fate.
Documentary Feature / Directed by Warren Hull / 77 minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / West Coast Premiere
“Beauty for Ashes” – A film showcasing the power of forgiveness in the most challenging of circumstances.
Narrative Short / Directed by Jamie Humphris / Seven minutes / 2020 / Australia
“Brothers in Arms” – “Brothers in Arms” tells a powerful story of hope and courage. Following WW2 Combat Marine Veteran Charlie Kohler from his childhood in the Heartland to a promising major league baseball career that’s cut short by the break out of the war.
Documentary Short / Directed by Tracie Hunter / 22 minutes / 2020 / USA / West Coast Premiere
“Budding Creativity” – An African American, wife, military veteran, and mother of three explores creative transferability during COVID-19.
Documentary Short / Directed by Kay Barnes / Nine minutes / 2020 / USA / Student Film / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / World Premiere
“Burger Day | A Short Story by Audrey di Faye” – An Asian-American woman confronts a veteran about his service when he harasses a food service worker over the restaurant’s Veteran Day special. “Burger Day,” was inspired by Greek tragedy, Euripedes’ “Hecuba.” It is a synthesis of a modern veteran experience and the ancient theater arts.
Narrative Short / Directed by Audrey di Faye / Six minutes / 2020 / USA / Student Film / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
“Charlotte Mansfield: a Woman Photographer Goes to War” – Drawing from an extraordinary archive of unpublished military photographs and personal correspondence, as well as expert and family interviews, “Charlotte Mansfield, a Woman Photographer Goes to War” tells the story of Sgt. Charlotte Dee Mansfield’s pioneering career as a Women’s Army Corps photographer during World War II.
Documentary Short / Directed by Brian Graves / 26 minutes / 2019 / USA / West Coast Premiere
“The Children’s Crusade” – Two young men, on opposite sides, meet on the battlefield in Iraq; but this could be any battlefield. Had they met anywhere else they might have been friends, but this is Fallujah. This film is intended to educate the public on the cruelty, the brutality, and the fog of war while also showing the human side and the bonds that tie all of us together.
Narrative Short / Directed by Joe Mery / Five minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Veterans or Military / World Premiere
“DREAMS OF THE BLACK ECHO” –This is the story of the Vietnam War, told to the younger generation through the experience of American and Vietnamese veterans and the battles of Khe Sanh. A unique co-production with Duy Tan University in Vietnam and Dixie State University film students, faculty, and staff for the DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival, “DREAMS OF THE BLACK ECHO” features stark historical and current footage and interviews, which enhance an already gripping look at this controversial war and the healing process which happens when soldiers can communicate after the conflict. Documentary Feature / Directed by Phil Tuckett and Tran Anh Tien / 80 minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / West Coast Premiere
“Early Light” – A 24-hour glimpse into an Equine Therapy Program where two Wyoming veterans turn to the healing power of horses to battle their PTSD. Allen and Sam find themselves on a path to self- destruction. Sometimes the only one who hears our cry for help is the last one we expect to be listening.
Narrative Short / Directed by Ted Schneider / 17 minutes / 2020 / USA / San Diego Premiere
“THE FARM” – Follow transitioning military as well as veterans learn Sustainable Organic Agriculture as a career.
Documentary Short / Directed by Shawn Efran / 30 minutes / 2021 / USA / Local Film Showcase
“A Flash of Green” – After being wounded by the first explosions at Pearl Harbor, Charles McCandless fought in the most critical battles against Imperial Japan in World War II. Midway, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima, to name a few. When he got home, like many veterans, he never talked about it. When Sandra McCandless Simons first read her father’s memoir, its revelations inspired her to publish his book so that others could experience his unique perspective on the war in the Pacific. Using newly-discovered archive footage along with unique images from McCandless family scrapbooks, this film brings the vivid storytelling of Charles’ memoir to the screen, along with fresh insight and humanity to one of the most consequential military struggles in history. Documentary Short / Directed by Edward Nachtrieb / 41 minutes / 2020 / USA / San Diego Premiere
“The Final Stand” – October 1941. Fascist hordes rush to Moscow. As a result of the breakthrough of the defensive line on one of the direct highways, there were no regular units of the Red Army left and the invaders were able to move in freely. Soviet High command decides to close the gap with cadets from the Podolsk infantry and artillery schools, many of whom were about 18 years old. Their task is to hold out for five days until the reserves arrive. The cadets held out for twelve… Аt a cost of their lives, they did not allow the enemy to reach Moscow, and thereby changed the course of war. The film is about heroism, about love, about true friendship.
“Forgotten Heroes” – The legacy of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore still resonates today. But what of those from the island who fought on battlefields thousands of miles from home? “Forgotten Heroes” follows the stories of four courageous individuals from Singapore who found themselves in far-flung theatres of war. From the blood-soaked beaches of Northern France to the icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, from the violent skies over southern China to the brutalities of a Japanese POW camp in Java, this documentary recounts the incredible true stories of four Singaporeans who lived through turbulent times. Documentary Short / Directed by Tom St. John Gray / 49 minutes / 2020 / Singapore / West Coast Premiere
“Fort Irwin” – Cristian arrives for his first day of work as an amputee actor at Fort Irwin, a military base in the California desert. For his new job, Cristian will act as if his legs have been destroyed by a bomb while wearing gory prosthetics as a part of soldiers’ training exercises. Cristian, an injured veteran himself, enters the artificial military simulation to confront his real combat trauma. Haunted by the past he fights to transform his fear into a source of strength.
Narrative Short / Directed by Quinn Else / 11 minutes / 2019 / USA / Student Film / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
“From Russia with… Mehh” – Matri, born in Deerborn Michigan in the mid 60’s, a daughter to a mail order Russian bride, tells the sad tail of growing up with a narcissistic mother and how she discovered the American Dream the hard way. Made almost completely with old super 8mm footage found at swap meets and estate sales, this unique style of film will leave you appreciating your childhood. Who knows, it might be a true story…
Narrative Short / Directed by Devin Scott / 17 minutes / 2020 / USA / Local Film Showcase / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / World Premiere
“The Girl Who Wore Freedom” – Normandy, France. Once an idyllic landscape, Normandy had succumbed to German invaders who overran its farms, its manors, its countryside. Here we meet Dany, Maurice, Henri-Jean, and others, who share their relationships with Allied forces who liberated Normandy. The journey from occupation to liberation, to acceptance and forgiveness, to gratitude and pride, is explored through interviews with French survivors and American veterans. We are reminded who America can be at her very best: when she values people over politics, seeks to right the wrongs of injustice, and sacrifices, when necessary, so others might be free.
Documentary Feature / Directed by Christian Taylor / 89 minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / West Coast Premiere
“Guide On” – On her first day of basic training, Halle Varro, a young Army recruit, stands out among her peers as she competes to be the guidon bearer. Halle’s attitude of defiance and winning at all costs puts her in Drill Sergeant Mallett’s crosshairs. Can Halle rise to the challenge and become the first female guidon bearer? Inspired by true events.
Narrative Short / Directed by Paige Compton / 16 minutes / 2020 / USA / Student Film / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans
“Hun Pilots” – A documentary about the heroic men who survived America’s first supersonic fighter, the F-100 Super Saber, an iconic fighter that flew more combat sorties in the Vietnam War than any other fighter. Documentary Short / Directed by Mark Vizcarra / 57 minutes / 2019 / USA / Local Film Showcase / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans
“The Invisible Project” – “The Invisible Project” is a documentary style info-drama that follows the lives of four women as they work to change the public perception of women Veterans in America. In the film, they demonstrate that service matters, and the service continues when they come home, as women and as Veterans.
Documentary Feature / Directed by Pacifica J. Sauer / 81 minutes / 2019 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / World Premiere
“The Khe Sanh Peace Garden” – This touching and hopeful film is about a medevac helicopter pilot who found peace within himself and with his mortal enemies when he tries to build a peace garden at the Khe Sanh Combat Base where he was stationed during the Viet Nam War.
Documentary Short / Directed by Tinh Mahoney / 25 minutes / 2020 / Viet Nam / San Diego Premiere
Chapman, a combat control technician who was killed in action in Afghanistan during 2002′s deadly Operation Anaconda, was first recognized with the Air Force Cross prior to the award’s 2018 upgrade to the Medal of Honor.
The reformed recognition followed an exhaustive investigation led by Air Force Capt. Cora Alexander, whose examination into the heroic firefight that claimed Chapman’s life, coupled with the best-selling book “Alone at Dawn” by Dan Schilling and Lori Longfritz, is forming the basis of the film’s script.
Image: Gyllenhaal at the premiere of ‘End of Watch’ (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
In March 2002, Chapman was flying with a team of Navy SEALs when the helicopter transporting them came under heavy fire from al-Qaida fighters below. When a member of the assault force was thrown from the helicopter amidst the turmoil, Chapman and other SEALs volunteered to go out on foot and retrieve their teammate.
Chapman was “the first to charge up the mountain toward the enemy,” former President Donald Trump said at the 2018 Medal of Honor presentation. The airman had just cleared a bunker of its enemy occupants when he decided to launch into a sprint toward additional al-Qaida fighters. That’s when Chapman was hit by multiple enemy rounds, knocking him unconscious.
Minutes transpired before Chapman regained consciousness and resumed fighting. After engaging the enemy for nearly an hour, another helicopter carrying Army Rangers and airmen approached. Rather than remain covered, Chapman emerged from his concealed position to fire at the assailants who were sighting in on the helicopter.
In the open, the airman was struck by two machine gun rounds that delivered the fatal blow, but his last-ditch efforts were lauded as saving numerous lives of those onboard the arriving helo. The husband and father of two daughters, then ages 3 and 5, was 36 years old.
For years, the exact circumstances surrounding Chapman’s death remained a mystery. A 2016 report from The New York Times revealed that former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, after seeing enhanced drone footage of the engagement, was the first to recommend Chapman’s Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
James argued that early after-action reports were inaccurate and that Chapman had not been killed when he was first knocked unconscious, as initial reports indicated.
After cross-referencing a video feed from an MQ-1 Predator drone and testimony by troops on the ground and in the air — an AC-130 air crew was overhead — a 17-person investigative team was able to pinpoint actions taken by Chapman on that frigid mountainside where he took his last breath.
“John survived that initial wounding that he got, and continued to fight on for an hour,” Chapman’s squadron commander Col. Ken Rodriguez said. “And then at a crucial moment, right at the end of his life, he sacrificed his life for the incoming quick reaction force, when he could have hunkered down and said, ‘Finally, the guys are coming in to get me.’ But instead he said, ‘If I don’t do something, others are going to die.’ He’s clearly a Medal of Honor-worthy warrior.”
For more than two decades, country music icon Trace Adkins has sold 11 million albums –all but one has gone Gold or Platinum — won numerous Country Music Television (CMT) and Academy of Country Music (ACM) awards and has nearly 200 million plays on YouTube.
But if you ask Trace Adkins what he’s proudest of, it has little to do with any of the above.
It’s the invaluable, long-lasting connections he’s made with U.S. veterans through his work with the USO, and especially with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
“I’m a better man for having associated with these men and women. I always say that if you have the opportunity to be in the presence of heroes, take it. You’ll be better for it,” said Adkins, who’s been WWP’s spokesperson since 2010.
“It’s always been a privilege to work with veteran organizations and it’s really been the most meaningful thing that I’ve done in my career.”
Steve Nardizzi, chief executive officer for WWP, says Adkins’ unwavering and passionate support for their cause has given a voice to their mission and the needs of the nation’s wounded veterans. “Time and time again, Trace has gone out of his way to highlight WWP and help us ensure this generation of injured veterans is the most successful and well-adjusted in our nation’s history,” said Nardizzi.
The country music singer’s support for the military began when he went on his first USO tour in 2002 to Bahrain, according to an Iamthevoluntourist.com interview.
“After that first trip, I was hooked,” Adkins said. “They were some of the most appreciative audiences you’ll ever play for.”
Since then, he’s been on a total of 12 USO tours, visiting over 65,000 service members across the globe, including performances at military installations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Respect for the armed forces is a common theme in the singer’s music. “The last few albums we’ve always tried to include a song that pays tribute to the men and women that serve,” he says. “I appreciate them. They’ve got my back and I want to let them know, I’ve got theirs, too.”
A Deep Connection
Widely known for his distinctive, bass-baritone voice, Adkins first emerged onto the country music scene in 1996 with his debut album, “Dreamin Out Loud,” released on Capitol Records Nashville. Since then, he’s released ten more studio albums and two greatest hits compilations. In addition, he’s charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country music charts, including number one hits, “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” “Ladies Love Country Boys,” and “You’re Gonna Miss This,” which peaked in 1997, 2007 and 2008, respectively.
All but one of his studio albums went Gold or Platinum in the U.S. – his highest-selling to date is the 2005 album, “Songs About Me,” which went multi-Platinum, selling over two million copies.
On his 2017 album, “Something’s Going On,” Adkins dedicated the song, “Still a Soldier,” to our nation’s veterans as a way to show his support and respect for all that they have done.
The song talks about the life of an American veteran and his deep-seated connection to life as a solider, even though he’s currently living a civilian life:
“Comes home at night to a pretty wife
With a baby due
He’ll sleep in on Saturday
Cut the grass if it don’t rain
After church he’ll watch the game
And have a beer or two”
“He’s still a soldier
His blood runs red, white and blue
He put away his gun and boots
But he still believes
The American Dream
‘Til his last breath he’ll always be
Adkins’ songs are just one of the many ways he advocates and supports veterans. The singer has been involved with the Wounded Warrior Project since its
inception and is passionate about its mission. “In my career, I just can’t think of any other organization that I’ve been involved with that just moved me the way my work with Wounded Warrior Project has,” he told Rolling Stone.
In his experience with wounded veterans, Adkins said he’s been struck by how many share the same goal: to rejoin their colleagues in active duty. “That’s all they want to do is go back, because they couldn’t find solace or comfort here. They just want to go back,” he says. “It’s sad to see those folks and visit with them. You can hear that pain. I’ve been around a lot of them and talked to a lot of them and it leaves you feeling helpless.”
Still, the singer, who released the EP “Ain’t That Kind of Cowboy” in October, is bolstered by the progress he’s witnessed. “There have been so many success stories,” Adkins says. “They come back and they get the help they need and it’s a wonderful thing to see when that does happen.”
In 2016, Adkins received the National Defense Industrial Association’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for his exceptional leadership and advocacy for service members. But, “I’m not going to pat myself on the back too hard,” Adkins says. “I just do what I can and hopefully it’ll help.”
Just hearing some of the things Adkins has lived through, you might say he doesn’t just sing country songs – he’s lived them. Born in the small Louisiana town of Sarepta in 1962, Adkins, at the age of 17, hit a school bus while driving to school one morning, puncturing both lungs, breaking several ribs and severing his nose – which, thankfully, they were able to sew back on, according to Wide Open Country. He went on to garner a football scholarship to Louisiana Tech University, but sadly, knee injuries ended any chance of an athletic career.
After college, Adkins worked several manual odd jobs before figuring out that Nashville was the place to be. He took up the guitar early in life but at the time, he was known more for his accident-prone ways than his singing.
In 1982, Adkins’ tangle with a bulldozer caused such deep cuts that, “I thought I was fixin’ to lose both my legs,” he told Wide Open Country. Less than a year later, a tank containing 400 barrels of oil exploded while he was trying to repair a leak, crushing his left leg. And in 1988, Adkins flipped his truck on an icy overpass in Texas, putting him in a neck brace. Another accident a year later left him with one of his fingers cut off.
But the decade’s cherry on top was Adkins being stranded with nine other coworkers on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Chantal in 1989. To survive, “I got to the highest part of the living quarters on the rig, so if it turned over, I was pretty well centered and could go in either direction,” he told Wide Open Country.
Adkins survived, and went on to have two daughters, Tarah and Sarah, with his first wife and high school sweetheart, Barbara Lewis, and three daughters, Mackenzie, Brianna and Trinity, with his third wife, Rhonda Forlaw, a former publicity manager for Arista Records who actually helped Adkins jumpstart his career.
However, in 1994, his second wife, Julie Curtis, got a little too fed up with his drinking, picked up the family shotgun and shot Adkins. Bullets went through his heart and both lungs.
“The doctors held little hope that I would survive and told my family and friends to go in and say goodbye,” he wrote in his autobiography, A Personal Stand: Observations and Opinions from a Freethinking Roughneck.
But if you know anything about Adkins, it’s that the country star has nothing if not nine lives, and continues to live life on his terms.
Generations of Sacrifice
With all Adkins has been through, he wasn’t going to let a pandemic
prevent him from performing at the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS for his fifth time. The concert is traditionally one of PBS’ highest rated shows and went on as scheduled, but with a few noticeable changes. The event usually draws hundreds of thousands of people to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, but in 2020, the tributes and performances were filmed separately in accordance with social distancing guidelines–something Adkins didn’t mind.
“For me, it was less of a challenge than it has been in the past because there was no live audience and if I screwed up, I got to do it over again. In the past I walked out on stage to 200,000 people, so it’s like being in a pressure cooker. This time it was way easier,” he laughingly told Iamthevoluntourist.com.
Adkins says he was thrilled to be part of the show and is happy to celebrate veterans every chance he gets. “It’s always a privilege and the highlight of my year to be part of this show. This year, I think especially. It provides some perspective.
“We’re going through a strange time but there have been generations before us who have been asked to sacrifice way more than we’re being asked to sacrifice. The times have been tougher on a much bigger scale and I think we need to be reminded of that. This too shall pass.”
“Gold Rush” is Discovery’s #1 show, and Friday night’s episode will focus on the all-military veteran team led by military veteran turned mine boss Fred Lewis.
During the show, fans will learn about their war injuries, paths to recovery and how his all-veteran team got into gold mining. It also reveals that crewmember Kyle Pletzke is one of the nation’s many homeless veterans.
Fred’s rookie team has faced a lot of setback this year from spotty ground to aging equipment… resulting in a low gold total so far.
But, the silver lining is that his special forces team has gelled together and is working well now as a crew.
They’re working through the night when needed, all with the goal of banking more gold.
VIEW THE TRAILER!
On Friday’s episode of “Gold Rush”, airing at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery, mechanic Mitch Blatshke from Parker’s crew stops by to help fix up the operation to get them to finish line. Now, they have to hope the gear will hold and that there’s gold in the ground to have any chance of bringing home gold this year.
“Gold Rush” airs this Friday at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery, followed by the military Gold Rush special at 10 PM ET/PT on Discovery. Fans can also binge all previous seasons of Gold Rush on discovery+
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