The Many Saints of Newark

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The Many Saints of Newark movie promo poster

“The Many Saints of Newark” is the much‐anticipated feature film prequel to the groundbreaking HBO series The Sopranos. 

Anthony Soprano is growing up under the influence of his uncle Dickie Moltisanti, the man who will help make the impressionable teen into the all-powerful mob boss: Tony Soprano.

Click to see more!

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@newarkmovie

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#themanysaintsofnewark

THE BATMAN

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A killer targets Gotham’s elite sending Batman on an investigation. As evidence mounts, he must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to corruption.

www.TheBatman.com

@TheBatman

#TheBatman

Meet The ‘Godfather of Top Gun’

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Top Gun USVM May Issue 2022 cover story collage of images

By Brady Rhoades

Mention Top Gun and most everyone thinks of Tom Cruise. But did you know there’s a real Top Gun program for fighter pilots? It’s safe to say most naval aviators do; most civilians don’t.

Dan Pedersen, 86, a veteran of numerous missions in the Vietnam War, is considered the real life “Godfather of Top Gun,” which he likens to a graduate school for aviators.

In the original Top Gun movie, those guys became the now-iconic and beloved Maverick, Ice Man, Goose and others. After three years of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-awaited sequel’s Memorial Day release will mark 36 years since the original movie debuted.

Goose and Maverick fans have been ravenous.

There’s been a buzz about the movie ever since Cruise announced that it was in the works, and Val Kilmer, the original Ice Man, started promoting it.

In “Maverick,” Cruise reprises his role as U.S. Naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel also stars Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm.

One thing seems to be agreed on, however: the film, featuring what Cruise calls unprecedented flying scenes, is best seen on the big screen.

What better film to celebrate open theaters this summer?

In the Dogfighting Business Maverick and company, though based on true fighter pilots, were glitzed up a bit, and that’s just fine. Pedersen credits the 1986 blockbuster film with helping the military.

Dan Pederson poses with fighter jet in early Vietnam era
Dan Pedersen, author of Top Gun: An American Story, used his experiences as a fighter pilot in Vietnam to train talented, young pilots in a program that would later inspire Top Gun starring Tom Cruise. Photo: Navy Historical Foundation Pederson

“The movie was excellent,” he told U.S. Veterans Magazine. “They motivated us and increased recruiting.” But Hollywood is in the storytelling business. Pedersen was in the dogfighting business. When he spearheaded Top Gun, he focused on pilots, in the air, in dogfights. “The only thing they have to rely on is their professional experience and senior guidance,” he said. “The guys that were with me were far more professional and serious,” he said.

Before Top Gun, which formed in 1969 with Pedersen and eight other elite Airmen honing their skills in Miramar, pilots in that war were achieving a 2 to 1 “kill ratio,” meaning they killed two enemies for every one American lost. “Totally unacceptable,” Pedersen said. And the “Godfather of Top Gun” ought to know. He was there when 11 American pilots were killed in 17 days.

Fast forward a couple years into the graduate school crash course for the one percent of elite fighters of that era, and the kill ratio was 24 to one. So, what does it take to be in that one percent? “The guys have got to really love what they’re doing every day…you’ve got to do a lot of air time, and that’s when you get really good and unbeatable.”

Tom Cruise in original Top Gun movie pictured riding motorcycle with fighter jet in background.
The movie Top Gun, directed by Tony Scott. Seen here, Tom Cruise as Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell riding a Kawasaki GPZ 900 R. Initial theatrical release May 16, 1986. Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Pedersen, who has been married for nearly 30 years after reuniting with his teenage sweetheart, likes to keep things simple. He credits his own success as a pilot to skilled mentorship, some of it from seasoned Word War II veterans. That was a bottom-line principle of Top Gun: teach advanced tactics to young, talented pilots. And pay it forward by, in turn, passing on that knowledge to the next generation.

At the Top of Their Game
The techniques and tactics that Pedersen and others taught in the Top Gun program are still used today, even with vastly more sophisticated technology.

Why has it stood the test of time?
“These are principles that evolved from experience and winning,” Pedersen said. Not to mention, the world’s greatest pilots. The Top Gun program has since moved to Fallon, Nev., and the technology has advanced but one thing hasn’t changed from air warfare in the 20th century to today, according to Pedersen.

“The pilot, the human, will always be the key factor in a win in aero combat,” he explained. Of the current one percent of naval aviators at Fallon, Pedersen said: “You look at these young pilots, and boy are they good.” Great pilots need great planes. Pedersen loved the Grumman F9F-2 aircraft that he flew dozens of missions in during Vietnam. “You could shoot the eyes out of a cat with it,” he said.

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis pictured together in original Top Gun movie.
Tom Cruise and co-star Kelly McGillis in original Top Gun movie. Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Archive Photo/Getty Images.

The military continues to deploy incredible planes, but two things concern Pedersen:
1) Some of the uber-expensive ones have too many bells and whistles inside the aircraft (He prefers simple and reliable.)
2) The United States needs to produce more to keep up with China, Russia and N. Korea.

“We have these nice, big aircrafts and not enough planes,” he said. “We do not want to be numerically outnumbered… if you get mosquitos in a phone booth, one fly swatter won’t do.”

An American Story
The release of Top Gun 2: Maverick roughly coincides with Pedersen’s release of his national bestselling book, titled Top Gun: An American Story, 50 years after the original Top Gun program was formed. In the 320-pager, Pedersen tells the inside story of how he and eight other risk-takers revolutionized the art of aerial combat. Hachette Books published Top Gun, and it’s an intriguing read.

Following is an excerpt from the promo on the book’s website:
“… the most interesting parts of the book are the discussions on how he became the man assigned to creating the school. Many today can reflect on similar situations with the War on Terror. The bureaucrats and many high-ranking generals thought they knew best until the candid USS Coral Sea Commander Frank Ault spoke out. Already in line for admiral and with nothing to lose the World War II attack pilot put his gripes on paper in 1968 and sent them to the Pentagon. He listed in detail the problems and the solutions with aerial engagement in Vietnam, in what became known as the Ault Report, and recommended the formation of a school specializing in aerial combat.

an Pederson's Top Gun book cover
Photo Credit: Hachette Book Group.

“Some of the problems included pilots fighting in Vietnam receiving limited training, having faulty Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles and not learning the skills they needed to outmaneuver the enemy. This became abundantly clear with the kill ratios: In World War II, the kill ratio was approximately 14-to-1, during the Korean War about 10-to-1, but in Vietnam — before the Top Gun program — it was as low as 2-to-1.

“Capt. Pedersen (then a lieutenant commander) was the first officer in charge of Top Gun. He was chosen because of his experiences in the air battles over Vietnam where he received first-hand knowledge of the shortcomings of American tactics and equipment. The ‘high tech’ weapons failed about 90 percent of the time, and the latest fighter plane didn’t even have a gun!

American fighter pilots were being shot down by a third-world air force using Soviet aircraft — MiGs. The Navy moved toward radar-guided missiles and aircraft to fire them instead of dogfighting.

“The Top Gun School ended up being very successful. The 2-to-1 ratio changed to a 24-to-1 ratio. It became, and still is, run by people with combat experience. It is obvious that Top Gun saved lives and turned the air war around.”

Pedersen, who calls the original Top Gun pilots “real patriots,” said he is pleased with his legacy in the military, which is chronicled in his book. “Anyone willing to defend their country should have a voice in combat and should have some control over their own destiny,” he said. “I am very proud that my lasting military contribution was Top Gun, where the trainees became unbeatable.”

Click here to view the exclusive Dan Pedersen interview video!

SUNKEN ROADS: Three Generations After D-Day–Streaming on Memorial Day!

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First Run Features presents the Streaming, Blu-ray and DVD premiere of Charlotte Juergens’s new documentary Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day beginning Memorial Day, May 30, 2022.

Don McCarthy was 20 years old on D-Day, when his infantry division landed on Omaha Beach. Don and the other veterans who survived D-Day will someday soon have passed into memory and legend. This realization inspires 20-year-old filmmaker Charlotte Juergens to join Don and seven other D-Day vets on a journey to France – a commemorative pilgrimage to Omaha Beach for the 70th anniversary of the invasion.

The vets come to see Charlotte as a granddaughter, trusting her with their stories as they confront the trauma that still haunts them 70 years after the war. In capturing their lives, Sunken Roads offers an intergenerational perspective on D-Day, presenting the memories of 90-year-old combat veterans through the eyes of a 20-year-old woman.

“The film is extraordinary!”
-Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC

“Manages to capture an innate gentleness and twinkly-eyed mischief in all of these men…Sunken Roads brings a hugely personal touch to such a massive moment in history.
It is, at times, a very emotional watch.” -JumpCut (UK)

“A disarmingly sweet film.”
-Saturday Evening Post

“Juergens’ filmmaking style is classic cinema verite: the cinema of truth. There is no artifice. There are no special effects. She’s never intrusive. She lets her subjects control what the lens and microphone will discover. Their faces are iconic.”
-Niagara Gazette

WATCH THE TRAILER!

Festivals & Honors
Winner! Outstanding Feature Documentary
Normandie–World War II International Film Festival

G.I. Film Festival
National WWII Museum
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
National Museum of the U.S. Army
Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
Carmarthen Bay Film Festival

Streaming on Apple TV, iTunes, Amazon & Vimeo On Demand plus DVD & Blu ray availability begins May 30, 2022

DVD UPC: 7-20229-91815-2 DVD Catalog #: FRF 918152D
DVD PRE-BOOK: May 30, 2022 SRP: $24.95
DVD Disc Features: 12 Bonus Scenes

BLU-RAY UPC: 7-20229-91816-9 BLU-RAY Catalog #: FRF 918169D
BLU-RAY PRE-BOOK: May 30, 2022 SRP: $29.95
BLU RAY Disc Features: 2-disc set; 20 Bonus Scenes; 5.1 Audio

GI Film Festival San Diego Announces Film Lineup for 2022 Season

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GI Film Festival marquee

Organizers of the GI Film Festival San Diego are thrilled to announce a diverse film lineup for its annual event happening May 17-21, 2022 at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park. The film festival is dedicated to presenting films and events for, by and about military and veterans, and is set to return to in-person screenings for the first time since 2019. The online box office opened on April 1 at GIFilmFestivalSD.org.

27 films to debut at this year’s military-themed film festival

This year’s multi-day festival features a selection of 27 films reviewed by members of the GI Film Festival San Diego advisory committee and festival organizers, including full-length documentaries, animated shorts, student projects, local films, and international films. The lineup also covers events from World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and present day. In addition, film themes and plot lines this year include mental health, military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress, the untold Filipino American military experience, women in service, transitioning to civilian life, life as a military spouse, veteran suicide, prisoner of war (POW) experiences, and much more.

Also, 13 of the films are narrative stories. Among them include the dark comedy “We All Die Alone” from San Diego filmmakers Jonathan Hammond (director) and Ryan Binse (producer and U.S. Navy veteran). The narrative short is a comical and tragic story of two warring gangs taking part in an eight-way standoff. Another narrative short featured in this year’s lineup is “THAT NIGHT,” a suspenseful, psychological thriller from Los Angeles filmmaker Samuel Gonzalez Jr., a U.S. Army veteran. Lastly, the period drama “Over There” from New York Film Academy graduate Charles Allen of St. Paul, Minnesota, is set in World War I and tells the story of two brothers who find themselves in the throes of battle with one objective: to make it home.

The other 14 films are documentaries. Making its San Diego premiere is “STRANGER AT HOME: The Untold Story of Military Mental Health.” Directed by Beth Dolan and Luis Resemar, the film weaves three veteran stories as they work tirelessly to deliver their urgent call-to-action for radical military mental health transformation. Also making its San Diego premiere is the documentary feature film “A Long March.” Director Tammy Botkin shines a light on the treatment of Filipino American veterans, from war to erasure by the U.S. government. Another documentary, “Walk With Frank,” documents a Vietnam veteran as he walks across New York to raise awareness and support those struggling with PTS. The film makes its West Coast premiere during the festival.

The GI Film Festival San Diego also honors local filmmakers through a partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego. This year, five films round out the local selections, including the return of Spring Valley filmmakers Devin and Jeanne Scott (2015, 2017, 2019, 2021) and newcomer Scott Campbell of El Cajon with the documentary short “Down on the Ranch.” Additionally, this year’s festival will feature 13 San Diego premieres, five World premieres and four West Coast premieres.

“We’re very excited to return in-person this year after two years of online screenings,” says Jodi Cilley, founder and president, Film Consortium San Diego. “There’s nothing better than sitting in a theater next to the WWII veteran you see on screen or hearing first-hand from a film subject on their war experience, or even talking to a filmmaker who served in the Vietnam War finally getting to tell their story. The GI Film Festival San Diego brings together our troops and civilians, and that is what makes this event so special, unique and an experience like no other. ”

The GI Film Festival San Diego not only plays an important role in preserving our military history, but also in bridging the military and civilian divide. Each film selected for the festival presents a different perspective of the military experience, and reassures our veterans and their families that they are not alone and their service is appreciated. The festival gives active duty military, veterans and allies a place to come together, share stories, and learn more about military heroes and events they may never see on the big screen or read in a book.

In addition to the film screenings, attendees will enjoy captivating post-screening discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, actors and subject-matter experts. The panel discussions explore the important topics and issues raised in the films, give audience members an opportunity to engage directly with the filmmakers, and create a space for dialogue, camaraderie, and listening. The festival culminates with the Awards Celebration, also taking place at MOPA on Saturday, May 21 with Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian, musician, radio broadcaster and U.S. military veteran and advocate Thom Tran, returning as event host. Tickets to the Awards Celebration will also be available via the online box office beginning April 1.

A complete list for this year’s film lineup is at the end of this news release.

Can’t make it in-person, watch the films at home for a limited time

All films shown at the in-person screenings will also be available as a video on demand rental (VOD), beginning the day after their festival debut through Memorial Day, May 30, 2022. This virtual option gives festival fans who are not able to attend the screenings in-person the flexibility to participate and enjoy the films however they choose within the rental window.

When the online box office opens, attendees will have the option to reserve a film or film block for VOD or secure a ticket for the in-person screening. Tickets for most in-person screenings start at $10 each or $8 for military, veterans and KPBS members. VOD rentals will be $10 each. Guests attending in-person screenings will be asked to observe and follow COVID-19 policies.

For seven years running

Since its inception in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego has provided a platform for military service members-turned-filmmakers both local and abroad to showcase their creative stories on the big screen, challenging the notions about what it means to serve. More than 210 films have since been screened at the festival, each presenting a compelling and unique story that aids in bridging the military-civilian gap.

Every year, members of the GI Film Festival San Diego advisory committee help review films for the final festival selection. The film festival has active support from several military and veteran-related organizations, including Project Recover, Workshops for Warriors, Travis Manion Foundation, Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Blue Star Families San Diego, Wounded Warrior Project, American History Theatre, San Diego Military Family Collaborative, Armed Services YMCA, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, and Courage to Call.

Members of the advisory committee also come from the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and many have military backgrounds, having served in the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and the Air Force Reserves. Several are military or veteran spouses. All committee members 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.

Over the years, 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.

For up-to-date information on this year’s film festival, how to attend and ways to get involved, visit GIFilmFestivalSD.org.

About GI Film Festival San Diego 

The GI Film Festival San Diego is a multi-day showcase of films for, by, and about military and veteran experiences. Films featured in the festival reveal the struggles, triumphs, and experiences of service members and veterans. The festival also provides veterans and service members with an opportunity to further their creative skills.

Documentaries, shorts, narratives, and feature-length films are presented. The festival includes locally-connected films, which feature San Diego’s filmmakers, events, people, or places. Post-screening discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, actors, and subject-matter experts are also part of the festival.

The festival, established in 2015, is organized by KPBS in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego to present the Local Film Showcase.

The 2022 festival is sponsored in part by Military Times, Scatena Daniels Communications, New York Film Academy, SAG-AFTRA and Veterans United Home Loans of San Diego. Additional support is provided by a grant from the California Health Care Foundation.

The GI Film Festival San Diego is a proud 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.

  • “3:35 to Boston” – A military wife, struggling to balance all the pieces of her life, breaks down when she realizes the life she had originally planned for herself may not be possible. Narrative Short / Directed by Kay Barnes / 8 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Student Film / San Diego Premiere
  • “American Hero” – Since the day Lt. Jordan returned home, she’s been trying to get the truth out, only to find herself struggling to overcome the pressures of the military. As her truth is revealed, Lt. Jordan has to bear with the severe backlash from the media, fellow soldiers, and the people who she loves the most, while facing the challenges presented by the intuition she swore her life to. The strength and bravery of Lt. Jordan will promote healing and political change for all of those who have suffered similar traumas within the committed constraints of the military environment. These similar traumas are shared and hidden by her husband. Film contains mature themes including rape and trauma. Viewer discretion advised. Narrative Short / Directed by Manny McCord / 15 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
  • “Barrier” – September 1944. Two Canadian soldiers find a boy washed up on the Dutch beach. Where did he come from and can he be trusted? Narrative Short / Directed by Niels Bourgonje / 9 minutes / 2020 / Netherlands / French with English Subtitles / San Diego Premiere
  • “Blind Ambition: The Wop May Story” – Shot on 35mm filmstock with an orchestral musical score, “Blind Ambition” brings to life the story of an inspiring and courageous pilot. After learning to fly in WWI, a young Canadian man returns home to start a bold career in aviation. Barnstormer, lifesaver, and intrepid bush pilot, Wilfred ‘Wop’ May proves the value of flight to the world. But when a 15 year old injury requires catastrophic eye surgery, he is forced to admit he had done it all with only one good eye. Now grounded, Wop continues to push aviation forward by running training schools for pilots and navigators in WWII, creates the first Air Search and Rescue service, and opens the Arctic and Pacific Rim to commercial flight. However, this dedication leaves little time for family. Upon Wop’s death, his teenage son discovers how little he really knew his father when he travels to the North and hears tales of his father’s adventures, heroics, and generosity – the legacy of Wop May. Documentary Short / Directed by Frederick Krotesch and Tom Robinson / 20 minutes / 2021 / Canada / West Coast Premiere
  • “Blood and Glory” – Two homeless, female veterans’ friendship is tested when they confront adversity, discrimination, and even mother nature herself in their attempt to find work and survive the day. Narrative Short / Directed by Satinder Kaur / 12 minutes / 2019 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
  • “BRAKE”– In this 2D-3D hybrid animation, a man endures sensory overload from attempting to travel. He and his service animal are denied entry which sends him into a panic. His service animal works to get him back to his senses.

Narrative Short / Directed by Aja Weary and Amanda Richardson / 4 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Student Film / San Diego Premiere

  • “Colonel Jack” – Unassuming, affable and hilariously funny, Jack Jacobs does not fit the mold of a “war hero” — nor is he comfortable with the term. But on March 9, 1968, a wounded Jacobs repeatedly returned to a Vietnam battlefield to rescue 14 men while under enemy fire. The action would earn him the Medal of Honor – presented by President Richard Nixon – and inspire a memorable scene in the film “Forrest Gump.” In “Colonel Jack,” Jacobs opens up a window into his unique philosophy, speaking candidly about the attack, the enemy, the importance of humor and why he dedicated his life to the U.S. Army. Documentary Short / Directed by Eric Greenberg / 7 minutes / 2022 / USA / Student Film / World Premiere
  • “Dear Sirs” – Filmmaker Mark Pedri had never heard his grandfather Silvio’s story despite spending nearly every day together for 10 years. It wasn’t until after Silvio’s death that Mark found an archive of old photos, letters, and documents detailing Silvio’s journey as a Prisoner of War (POW) in World War II. The discovery inspired Mark to bike over 500 miles across Europe, following the original Prisoner of War transportation routes, in an effort to tell his grandfather’s story and better understand the man who helped raise him. This film contains difficult subject matter and imagery including depictions of war. Viewer discretion advised. Documentary Feature / Directed by Mark Pedri / 92 minutes / 2021 / USA / San Diego Premiere
  • “Down on the Ranch” – A ranch owner volunteers her time and horses to provide equestrian assisted services for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Documentary Short / Directed by Scott Campbell / 10 minutes / 2022 / USA / Local Film / San Diego Premiere
  • “HERE. IS. BETTER.” – A soldier’s story is always personal, but never more than in HERE. IS. BETTER., a documentary film with unprecedented access inside trauma therapy sessions delivering hope to veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals featured in the film include former Presidential hopeful Jason Kander, who shocked many when he left the Kansas City mayoral race in 2018 to seek treatment; a Vietnam War veteran still haunted by events that occurred over 50 years ago; and the voices of so often overlooked female veterans, all seeking the keys to unlock their places of hurt and pain. Directed by Emmy®-winning filmmaker Jack Youngelson and produced by Emmy winners Sian Edwards-Beal and David Beal. Score composed by David Baron and Jeremiah Fraites of the GRAMMY-nominated band The Lumineers. Original songs by Josin and Kara DioGuardi. This film contains course language, scenes from combat, and mature themes of suicide, sexual assault, and violence. Viewer discretion advised. Documentary Feature / Directed by Jack Youngelson / 95 minutes / 2021 / USA / West Coast Premiere
  • “Into Flight Once More” – On an airstrip in Connecticut, a squadron of World War II-era DC3/C47 airplanes is forming. The distinctive, throaty roar of their massive radial engines stir up memories and challenges. Lovingly restored and flown by passionate aviators from all over the country, each plane represents an investment of money and countless hours to honor the Greatest Generation who sacrificed their lives to protect freedom worldwide. Their mission: To fly from Connecticut to Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England and finally across the English Channel to Normandy, France where, on June 6, 2019, the members of this remarkable squadron will join roughly 500,000 people from all over the globe to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. The squadron members’ backgrounds and personal motives differ, but what unites them in recreating this historic journey is their commitment to honoring the veterans that secured peace for all of us, and celebrating their return home. For many of the men and women who served in World War II, seeing the vintage airplanes again sparked memories long held deep inside. At each stop on the journey from the United States to France, we will meet veterans as they reconnect with the planes that flew, provisioned, rescued, supported and meant so much to them during wartime. “Into Flight Once More” is narrated by Gary Sinise. Documentary Feature / Directed by Adrienne Hall / 69 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
  • “Landing Home” – “Landing Home” is a film that takes the audience into the mind of a combat soldier and pulls back the curtain of the lasting damage war has to our veterans and their families. Returning home for men and women in uniform can represent only the beginning of a different kind of war. Luke, an army combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, decides to leave the military and come home to be with his family. He soon realizes that this is much harder than he ever imagined. Something as simple as a birthday party for his five-year-old daughter can quickly become overwhelming and trigger his post-traumatic stress. “Landing Home” is inspired by the award-nominated off-Broadway play, “The American Soldier.” The play has been performed in over 28 cities and gives voice to veterans and military families. It is based on actual letters soldiers have sent to their loved ones from the Revolution to the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The script of “Landing Home” is created from a combination of exhaustive research and verbatim language lifted from countless interviews the director and producer have conducted with veterans and their family members. Narrative Feature / Directed by Douglas Taurel / 73 minutes / 2019 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
  • “Lives On the Line” – Kyle is an Afghanistan war veteran, suffering from chronic pain, who falls victim to a broken system while seeking treatment at the VA. At his breaking point, he meets a disillusioned VA employee who has seen what happens when the promises made to veterans are broken. This film deals with difficult topics such as suicide, which some viewers may find disturbing. It is intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion advised. Narrative Short / Directed by Steve Stein / 20 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
  • “A Long March” – Three veterans trace their paths from war to erasure by the U.S. government. Winding through a seldom-told history of the Philippines, seized by the U.S. as a colony in 1899, through a 40-year stretch of lethal imperialist policies, Celestino Almeda, Rudy Panaglima and Feliciana Reyes find themselves inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII. After their service, Congress declares them, and hundreds of thousands more, to be “not on active duty.” These veterans are denied back pay, GI benefits and promised citizenship. From 1946-1948 the U.S. Army further disenfranchises these veterans by reconstructing rosters of service which also secretly refuse to recognize the service of women. Today, Celestino, Rudy and Feliciana represent the tens of thousands of elderly veterans who remain unacknowledged despite their evidence of service. As judicial solutions hit a brick wall and all eyes turn to Congress, this documentary asks the hard questions: Will America stand up for the values it claims? Will these veterans get the recognition they deserve before they are all dead? The plight of these veterans unfolds alongside interviews with family members, legal, legislative, and military advocates; archival footage; and 3D animation of rediscovered WWII art. Documentary Feature / Directed by Tammy Botkin / 86 minutes / 2021 / USA / Local Film / San Diego Premiere
  • “My Happy Place” – Anna Borman’s six-year-old life in 1965 was nearly perfect. Living in Florida, having two great parents… and then an abrupt life-changing situation turned her world upside down. Divorce was on the rise in the ‘60s, but the circumstances around the Borman’s split comes with a twist. Anna and her father take a road trip across America during summer visitation and lessons of love and forgiveness are learned. This found-footage film has driving scenes from the East Coast to the West Coast and includes imagery of the many historical sights still popular today. Anna and her father finally arrive at their final destination: “Autopia” in Disneyland, Anaheim. “My Happy Place” visually touches life in the 1960s, drawing empathy and compassion for the characters. This story was inspired by a few of the producer’s true experiences. Narrative Short / Directed by Devin Scott / 18 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Local Film / World Premiere
  • “Nation’s Promise” – “Nation’s Promise” brings to life the true story of two patriots who, for both love of country and one another, made the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War for our nation. Inspired by our nation’s commitment to returning all of her fallen sons and daughters back to their families and a grateful country, this is the true story of First Lieutenant Loren Hagen and Sergeant Al Boyers, lifelong friends, divided at time of war and brought together in the quest to find each other. Al Boyers joined an elite group of special forces tasked with carrying out harrowing missions in a clandestine division known as the Studies and Observations Group. After being stranded behind enemy lines and declared MIA, Loren Hagen joins the military to find his best friend. With never-before-seen footage, “Nation’s Promise” explores one of the most enduring legacies of two men’s commitment to one another, a family’s journey to bring them home, and a nation’s promise to honor all whom have served and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the United States of America. Documentary Feature / Directed by Justin Dailey / 60 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Local Film / World Premiere
  • “Over There” – After the United States enters the First World War, two brothers find themselves amidst the horrors of modern combat in Europe with one objective: to make it home. Narrative Short / Directed by Charles Allen / 13 minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Student Film
  • “RAW” – Past and present are blurred by a horrifying transgression as a female soldier faces the aftermath of a military patrol in the Middle East. RAW exposes military sexual trauma through the eyes of a soldier struggling to readjust to everyday life. Film contains mature themes including rape and trauma. Viewer discretion advised. Narrative Short / Directed by Drake Shannon / 10 minutes / 2020 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Local Film
  • “Second to None” – The discovery of an interview with his deceased grandfather leads filmmaker Edmund Carson to a previously unknown part of his family history. “Second to None” is a gripping first-hand account of a U.S. infantryman in World War II who walked through fear and cheated death. Documentary Short / Directed by Ed Carson / 26 minutes / 2021 / USA
  • “Shell Shocked” – After two years of unsuccessful treatment, a combat veteran suffering from “battle induced stuttering” discovers a controversial drug banned since WWII that has the possibility to cure him. Narrative Short / Directed by Paula A Cajiao / 16 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / West Coast Premiere
  • “Stem to Stone: A Wreath’s Journey” – Each December, volunteers lay 250,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, one on every veteran’s grave. The sight is breathtaking and iconic. Wreaths Across America urges Americans to remember, honor and teach for those who have served our country and paid the ultimate price. Wreaths are placed at more than 2,500 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad. Many of these wreaths are made from trees that bear the name of a fallen service member. Come along for the poignant and patriotic trip, from a tree farm in Northern Maine to the U.S. capital. Witness this remarkable journey from stem to stone, through the eyes of trucker and Gold Star father J.D. Walker. Documentary Short / Directed by Brian Burdett / 6 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / World Premiere
  • “STRANGER AT HOME: The Untold Story Of Military Mental Health” – STRANGER AT HOME weaves the life-altering stories of the Navy Psychologist forced into whistleblowing, the Army Ranger involved in the killing of Pat Tillman, and the Vietnam Marine turned world-renowned trauma expert, as they work tirelessly to deliver their urgent call-to-action for radical military mental health transformation. This film contains difficult subject matter and mature themes. Viewer discretion advised. Documentary Feature / Directed by Beth Dolan and Luis Remesar / 69 minutes / 2021 / USA / Local Film / San Diego Premiere
  • “THAT NIGHT” – A haunted veteran plagued by guilt and hallucinations struggles with the murder of an innocent civilian girl. Wishing to end it all as he tries to make sense of his past and fractured reality, when a mysterious young woman changes everything. Based on the untold true story. Narrative Short / Directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr. / 39 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / San Diego Premiere
  • “The Monument of Tolerance” – Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, veterans from both the Allied and Axis forces, and survivors of the Holocaust, come together to reconcile and put tolerance into practice. These former enemies demonstrate to all people that reconciliation with one’s fellow human is attainable and the way forward for a future together. Documentary Short / Directed by Tracie Hunter and Elizabeth Suter / 30 minutes / 2021 / USA / World Premiere
  • “Veterans Journey Home: On Black Mountain” – At a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center in the hills north of San Francisco, California, 22 women veterans experience a four-month mindfulness meditation-based workshop to confront the demons connected to their military service: sexual harassment, rape, abuse, discrimination, career exploitation, and the lies and hypocrisy from their commanders. Documentary Short / Directed by Frederick Marx / 50 minutes / 2021 / USA / US Premiere
  • “Walk With Frank” – A former Vietnam infantry soldier decides to celebrate his 70th birthday by walking across New York to help other survivors of PTSD and confront his own dark past. Documentary Feature / Directed by Ryan Mayers and Matt Mayers / 78 minutes / 2021 / USA / West Coast Premiere
  • “We All Die Alone” – The hubris of an inept conflict negotiator leads two warring gangs into an eight-way standoff. The consequences are both comical and tragic in this whip-smart short. Narrative Short / Directed by Jonathan Hammond / 13 minutes / 2021 / USA / Made By or Starring Military or Veterans / Local Film

Drew Carey: A Grateful Marine

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By Brady Rhoades

The Price is Right host and Hollywood icon Drew Carey is, in many ways, an unlikely Marine.

The congenial, bespectacled, self-described “peacenik” comedian served his country as a sergeant and field radio operator with the 25th Marine Regiment and calls the experience a pivot-point in his life.

“Military life and experiences gave me incredible experiences in leadership — especially in small groups, and under pressure,” Carey, 63, said in an interview with U.S. Veterans Magazine. “The military is not about yelling at someone to do things, as people wholly unfamiliar with the military would believe. There’s a tremendous amount of trust that other people will do their jobs and that you’ll do yours. So, there’s social pressure. And a lot of subservience to the mission and the greater good of the group. So, you learn to swallow that and perform because there are always stakes, great and small. And you never want to be the one who can’t rise to the occasion. You’re reminded of this dynamic constantly in the Marines. It’s just there. No one has to yell at you about it.”

Rewind to 1980. Carey, who hails from Cleveland, was jobless, broke and crashing at his brother’s California home when he joined the military.

It turned out to be a watershed move.

“I went from not being able to afford to eat or clothe myself to getting three meals a day. I had an instant family,” Carey said.

The lessons his new family — the Marine Corps — taught Carey ring true to him to this day. They explain, in part, why he’s committed to the ideal of service.

One of his most famous philanthropic efforts took place in 2014 when he promised $10,000 to help find the perpetrators of a fake “ice bucket challenge” involving an autistic 14-year-old Ohio boy who had been told he was going to be doused in ice but instead was showered in urine, tobacco and cigarette butts.

“Horrendous,” Carey tweeted at the time.

Drew Carey seated in helicopter wearing fatigues and posing with another Marine
Drew Carey and others meet with and perform for military members during comedy tour for USO.

Drew Carey and others meet with and perform for military members during comedy tour for USO.

Carey, who checked out a joke book from a local library after his stint in the Marines, is a big supporter of libraries. Over the years, he has donated millions to the Ohio Library Foundation and Cleveland Public Library.

And he advocates for active military personnel and veterans — performing in USO tours, competing in the Marine Corps Marathon, and raising money in various ways.

On a lighter note, Carey continues to advocate for the Cleveland Browns, who sported a disappointing 8-9 record this season. After Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield was sacked nine times in a 26-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 3, the funny man tweeted this:

Maybe the #Browns offensive line just doesn’t like Baker Mayfield?

Ever think of that?

Or it’s some kind of insurance scam.

I dunno.

When Carey completed his military service in 1986, he turned to standup comedy at the Cleveland Comedy Club and other venues.

In 1988, he competed on Star Search. In 1991, he landed a spot on HBO’s Young Comedians Special and appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He went on to co-star in the Disney TV series The Good Life and worked as a staff writer on The Gaby Hoffmann Show.

Actors Wayne Brady, Drew Carey, Pauley Perrette, and Jai Rodriguez pose outside smiling
(L-R) Actors Wayne Brady, Drew Carey, Pauley Perrette, and Jai Rodriguez attend the 29th Annual AIDS Walk. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

By the mid-1990s, Carey was a household name, starring in The Drew Carey Show, which ran from 1995-2004, and the improv/sketch show Whose Line Is It Anyway? on which he was host and producer from 1998-2007.

The success of that show led to the creation of Drew Carey’s Improv All Stars, a talented troupe that performed across the country.

Carey was cast in movie roles and penned a best-selling memoir titled, Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined.

In 2007, he was named the host of The Price Is Right, succeeding longtime host Bob Barker. This year marks the show’s 50th anniversary.

As if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, Carey is more-than-passingly involved in music.

“I play rock n roll every Friday night on Sirius channel 21,” Carey said. “Little Steven’s Underground Garage. It’s called the Friday Night Freakout, and it airs from 8 to 11 p.m. EST. Also streams on the Sirius app. It’s my passion project.”

Most people know all about Carey’s TV career — and now they know

Drew Carey speaks at a podium at the Veterans Inaugural Ball
Actor Drew Carey attends the Veterans Inaugural Ball.(Kris Connor/Getty Images)

about his love of rock and roll — but what do they know of pre-famous Drew Carey? Probably not much.

That goes back to the unlikely part, although Carey said he’s not that unlikely.

“I know it sounds paradoxical, but despite being such a supporter of our troops and the military, I’m a real peacenik. I’m half hippy, to be honest. But I know I’m not the only one.”

He’s also not the only Buddhist who’s served his country.

“I discovered Buddhism and meditation late in life,” he said. “You do it because it’s the least conflicted and happiest way to live. And because it’s just the right thing to do. It took me a while, but I no longer consider anyone else above or below me. I used to think I did. But I didn’t. I would be intimidated by or jealous of different types of people in power or with different social standings. And I would feel sorry for people who didn’t have as much in one way or another. Now none of that matters to me as far as how I treat them. We all have our path. I try to treat everyone with the same dignity and respect.”

And, of course, he will always be an Ohio-style diehard when it comes to veterans, a feeling that took root in his teens.

Drew Carey as a young  Marine headshot
Drew Carey during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“I graduated high school in 1975, the year we got the last helicopter out,” he said. “I delivered the Cleveland Plain Dealer as a paperboy. They broke the Mai Lai Massacre story. I remember folding all those papers with those awful pictures on the front page. And I remember how badly soldiers were treated when they got home, both by civilians and our institutions. I believe it’s important for us to always recognize the sacrifices it takes to serve in our military, and how necessary they are… We need to recognize and applaud people in our military who do their jobs well, and with honor. Period.”

New Military Film – DOG – In Theaters February 18, 2022 Starring Channing Tatum

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Dog the movie promo poster with Channing Tatum

DOG is a buddy comedy that follows the misadventures of two former Army Rangers paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime.

Army Ranger Briggs (Channing Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois dog) buckle into a 1984 Ford Bronco and race down the Pacific Coast in hopes of making it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time.

Along the way, they’ll drive each other completely crazy, break a small handful of laws, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards in order to have a fighting chance of finding happiness.

DIRECTED BY | Reid Carolin & Channing Tatum
STARRING | Channing Tatum, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Luke Forbes, and Ronnie Gene Blevins
STORY BY | Reid Carolin & Brett Rodriguez
SCREENPLAY BY | Reid Carolin

WATCH THE TRAILER:

Army bluegrass band releases viral Christmas song

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member of the Six String Band holding a guitar and smiling

The holiday season is in full swing with Christmas music playing on every radio station. And the Army band known the Six-String Soldiers got in on the action too with a viral hit released to Facebook.

Released on Thanksgiving day the band’s music video, “18 Wheel Chrome & Steel Sleigh” has been viewed more than a million times.

“I wanted to do like a truck driver type of song but for Christmas, with a Christmas setting,” Sgt. First Class Brandon Boron told Military Times. “I just got this idea for this song where something happened to Santa’s sleigh, or the reindeer and he had to take his he had to take a seat to deliver the toys.”

Boron, a musician with the U.S. Army Field Band, wrote the song and plays the guitar as well as providing the vocals.

“It’s always a big thrill for us when we get such a positive reaction from the people out there,” he said. “It’s our first original that got over a million views on any kind of video I’ve done. It’s new experience for us in that respect.”

The Six-String soldiers was started in 2015 by Master Sgt. Peter Krasulski. He and Sgt. First Class Glenn Robertson founded the band so that they could focus on creating their own style of music.

“Six-string soldiers kind of evolved out of another group that was a part of the field band around 2015,” Krasulski said. “It was also the first time that really kind of any group from the field band had started doing videos for the purpose of social media. So back in 2015, we started having our first viral videos.”

The band, which also has Staff Sgt. Joseph Bennet on guitar, mandolin, and vocals, and his wife Staff Sgt. Renee Bennet on fiddle and vocals, is currently in Nashville, where it hopes to to the produce more original music.

Read the complete article posted on the Army Times here.

Pictured in photo: Six-String Band Facebook Page: Sergeant 1st Class Glenn Robertson, Six-String Band, United States Field Band.

VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show To Be Streamed Online December 18 – 25, 2021 With All Proceeds Going Directly To Veterans Services

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VetsAid logo

Joe Walsh, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and multi-GRAMMY Award winning musician invites you into his home for his 5th annual VetsAid music festival, an offering of his national 501(c)3 non-profit veterans organization. The Basement Show will be streamed live from his basement studio on December 18th and will feature performances by Walsh with special guests including Ringo Starr, a tour of his studio and some of his home guitar collection and a fan submitted Q&A as moderated by his wife Marjorie Walsh and stepson Christian Quilici, who are both VetsAid co-founders.

The stream will also include never before seen footage from the first four VetsAid offerings and from a recent visit Joe made to the US Vets Long Beach facility. As VetsAid festivals are typically planned near military bases and last year’s pandemic prohibited any in-person meetings, it was important and gratifying for Joe to be able to meet safely with vets of varying generations at US Vets Long Beach Social Hall where participants were able to share their stories of transition out of homelessness, thoughts on the present homelessness crisis across the country and messages of hope. The visit was topped off with a performance and storytelling session about “Life’s Been Good.”

“I’m always so inspired by the incredible service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families – and this year I had the honor of visiting with some of them in Long Beach and I look forward to sharing some of that visit in the stream on December 18th. Supporting and being of service to them is the sole aim of VetsAid,” Walsh said. “and while we couldn’t be together in Columbus as originally planned, I thought I’d do something special and invite everybody over to my house instead! So c’mon and join us for some great music and a glimpse of how I live, work, play and make music with my friends! That’s a lotta Joe!”

It is fitting that this year’s concert comes from Walsh’s home as Veterans and their wellbeing have always been a family affair for Joe as a Gold Star son himself. His father was a flight instructor for the first US operational jet powered aircraft, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, and died while stationed and on active duty on Okinawa when Walsh was 20 months old.

VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show will be streamed live on December 18, 2021 at 8:00pm EST (with restream available through December 25, 2021) and is a ticketed event with livestream passes and merch bundles available now from $15 via vetsaid.veeps.com. vetsaid.veeps.com.

Joe Walsh launched VetsAid on September 20, 2017 with an inaugural concert at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, VA. The second festival event was in Tacoma, WA and the third in Houston, TX.  VetsAid typically seeks to host the events in cities across the country with large veteran populations.The shows have included performances by musicians including James Taylor, Chris Stapleton, Don Henley, ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, The Doobie Brothers, Zac Brown Band, Jason Isbell, Keith Urban, Haim, Gary Clark Jr. and Joe’s brother-in-law Ringo. VetsAid 2020 saw the festival move online during the COVID pandemic with more than 40 participating artists that included Willie Nelson, Eddie Vedder, Gwen Stefani, James Hetfield and Jon Bon Jovi.

To date, VetsAid has disbursed $1.8 million dollars to organizations that support veterans and their families. All net proceeds from the 2021 streaming festival will go directly to the veterans’ services charities selected through a vetting process coordinated in tandem with the Combined Arms Institute. Criteria for this year’s selection process will focus exclusively on our homeless veterans and the resettlement efforts of our Afghan allies.

For more information, please visit www.vetsaid.org.

‘Top Gun’ Barbie Is Here to Help Us Wait for Maverick’s New Movie

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Mattel BArbie Doll Phoenix stands on airplane runway in military uniform holding her helmet on hip

November 19 was supposed to be the day that we finally got to see “Top Gun: Maverick” in theaters, but Tom Cruise and the suits at Paramount kicked the release yet again to May 27, 2022.

Maverick fans can console themselves with the official “Top Gun: Maverick” Barbie doll, inspired by the movie character Natasha Trace, call sign “Phoenix.”

“Top Gun” and Barbie fans can buy the limited edition doll for $39.99 at Mattel’s Barbie.com website. You also can buy one at Target, Walmart or Amazon. There’s a limit of two dolls at the Barbie website, so you may need to act fast if you want to buy one.

The doll comes with a pilot’s helmet and a jumpsuit that includes signature patches. Phoenix also sports aviator sunglasses, dog tags and a watch. Our aviator has everything she needs to succeed at the hyper-competitive Top Gun school.

We have no idea what Phoenix’s role will be in the story of “Top Gun: Maverick,” but we do know that she’s played by Monica Barbaro, best known for her roles on the television shows “UnREAL,” “Chicago Justice” and “Stumptown.”

Will Phoenix emerge as Top Gun champion in the new movie? Will she meet a Goose-like fate? We’re going to have to wait another six months to find out the details.

Read the original article posted on Military.com.

Morgan Freeman: Always With Purpose

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Morgan Freeman collage of professional photos

By Samar Khoury

The world knows Oscar winner Morgan Freeman for his box office hits, like The Shawshank Redemption, Invictus and Bruce Almighty, among many others. But there is so much more to this acting legend than his performances on stage and screen, for Freeman is a philanthropist and humanitarian whose contributions have made a difference in the lives of so many. This year alone, aside from filming three movies, the Air Force veteran has made it his mission to spark change — most recently lending his powerful voice to call for police reform.

In June, Freeman and criminal justice professor Linda Keena at the University of Mississippi donated $1 million to the university to create a Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform – the only one of its kind in the state and one of only a few in the nation. The purpose of the center is to research and implement the best practices for training police around the country, as well as train how police can better engage the community in crime prevention.

“Look at the past year in our country – that sums it up,” Freeman said. “It’s time we are equipping police officers with training and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. Policing should be about that phrase ‘To Serve’ found on most law enforcement vehicles.”

The star’s work doesn’t stop there. After indie film The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain premiered at the Austin Film Festival, Freeman and Revelations Entertainment (his independent movie production company) partner Lori McCreary jumped on the opportunity to be executive producers for the film, which was released in theaters in September. The film recalls the final moments of Kenneth Chamberlain – a 68-year-old Black veteran killed by White Plains, N.Y. police in 2011 after accidentally setting off his medical alert. Police broke down the door to his apartment and shot Chamberlain twice in the chest. No charges were brought against the police in a 2012 jury trial.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a movie scene.
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman sitting outside on the benches playing checkers and talking in a scene from the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ (Photo by Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images)

“All of the news coverage this past year, about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and all of the other stuff that’s been going on, this movie I think sort of narrows it all down to what is necessary here, and to my way of thinking, what was necessary here is police reform,” Freeman told The Hollywood Reporter. “We have to get another way of doing policing in the community. Policing is for help, it’s not law enforcement, and I think this movie points that out.”

But this is just scratching the surface of what Freeman has accomplished. His activism has only begun.

From the Air Force to Stardom
Freeman was born on June 1, 1937, and grew up in a segregated community in Mississippi. There, he discovered his passion for film – he frequented the local movie theater and loved watching war movies, sparking his interest in becoming a pilot. In school, Freeman performed in school plays and competitions, and, not surprisingly, took on lead roles and won awards.

After he graduated from high school in 1955, Freeman turned down a drama scholarship to Jackson State University to enlist in the Air Force, working as radar technician for more than a year before training as a pilot. That’s when he realized flying was not right for him, thus receiving an honorable discharge as an airman first class in 1959.

Throughout his time serving out nation, Freeman’s interest in acting never left him. “When I got in and started to live that life [in the Air Force], it occurred to me that I had been functioning with my romance with movies. I had seen all these war movies, but you are thinking reality when it is all make believe,” he said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey’s “Master Class.”

He found work on television in the children’s show The Electric Company, appeared on stage in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar, winning an Obie Award, and then got his big break with his extraordinary performance in Street Smart.

After his Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Street Smart and his Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and a second Oscar nomination for his role in Driving Miss Daisy, Freeman’s career began to skyrocket. In 1993, he directed his first film, Bopha!, and soon created Revelation Entertainment with Bopha! producer Lori McCreary.

Along the way not only has Freeman’s movie performances, as a lead actor, supporting actor and narrator, resulted in global box office totals of over $10 billion, but according to Forbes he is the “most trusted voice in the world.

Currently, he is set to lead upcoming thriller Muti with Yellowstone star Cole Houser. The film, set for release next year, will follow a detective who, unable to cope with his daughter’s death, hunts down a serial killer who murders based on a tribal ritual: Muti. The only person who can help him is Freeman’s character, an anthropologist hiding a secret. In addition, to his film work, he has a series coming to History Channel in the fall: Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman. The show tells true stories of prison breaks, most of which failed.

Morgan Freeman during Morgan Freeman Footprint Ceremony at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Morgan Freeman during Morgan Freeman Footprint Ceremony at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Activist, Philanthropist and Go-Getter Acting isn’t the only thing Freeman is passionate about – it turns out that he has a heart of gold, and he’s committed to making the world a better place. He is a driving force behind the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, has donated funds to help create the Morgan Freeman Equine Reproduction Research Unit at the Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine and founded the Tallahatchie River Foundation committed to quality early childhood education in the state of Mississippi. It is a fundamental belief of Freeman that when children thrive by 3rd grade, they have the promise of a better future.

Freeman is also an advocate for Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education. The philanthropist has also hosted an online disaster relief auction for the American Red Cross, created a cookbook – Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause– and supports efforts to promote the use of clean-burning fuels in America.

“I firmly believe that alternative fuel supplies need to be developed to allow the US to wean itself off its significant dependence on foreign oil,” Freeman said. “Moreover, I feel that our development of alternative sources such as biodiesel fuel will help the environment, farmers and the economy in general.”

An active environmentalist, in 2014, he added honeybee hives to his Mississippi ranch after learning about their global decline. Since then, he has planted magnolia, clover, lavender and bee-friendly fruit trees, as well as ensured his farm is as sustainable as possible. “There is a concerted effort for bringing bees back onto the planet,” Freeman said. “We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation.”

Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37.
Master Sgt. Curtis Chiles (left) conducts egress training for actor Morgan Freeman before his orientation flight in a T-37. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Jennifer Moore)

Freeman, who was dubbed this year’s #VeteranOfTheDay, constantly advocates for human rights. From supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his federal holiday, the activist has always spoken out against injustice. “Fighting for equality is a celebration of independence. Fighting for black lives is a celebration of independence. #BlackLivesMatter,” Freeman said on Twitter.

In January this past year, Freeman made a point to remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and continues to make a difference. “In these trying times we must remember and uplift the good while rising above violence,” he said. “We must never forget about him. Today, we must remember to keep the dream alive. So be kind, show love to one another, help pave the way for equality and justice and have faith that our great country can recover from anything. Because through this we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

As far as we’re concerned, Freeman has kept the dream alive.

“I can say that life is good to me. Has been and is good. So, I think my task is to be good to it. How do you be good to life? You live it.”

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. LA Fleet Week
    May 27, 2022 - May 30, 2022
  5. Buffalo Soldier Iron Riders Quasquicentennial Gathering
    June 13, 2022 - June 19, 2022