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