Event Details


    The GI Film Festival San Diego invites military, veterans, filmlovers, and allies to take part in an amazing lineup of films, events, and discussions. The annual festival happens May 6-11, 2024 during military appreciation month.

    Established in 2015, the GI Film Festival San Diego is a multi-day showcase of films for, by and about military and veteran experiences. Documentaries, shorts, narratives, and feature-length films are presented. The festival includes international and local films. Local films feature San Diego’s filmmakers, events, people, or places.

    Film screenings are followed by discussions with filmmakers, actors, documentary subjects, and/or subject-matter experts. The festival concludes with an exciting awards celebration, honoring film excellence across more than a dozen categories.

    The festival tackles topics like post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, LGBTQIA+ military experiences, addiction, and more. Non-military themed films that feature military service and active service members in key roles, such as directors, actors, producers, or writers, are also screened. In this way, the festival provides an opportunity for these emerging filmmakers to share their creative work.

    Since its inception, the GI Film Festival San Diego has presented more than 270 films from international, U.S., and San Diego County, and has attracted more than 11,690 attendees from various backgrounds.

    Over the years, the festival has 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.


    The military is one of the largest economic drivers in the San Diego region and has one of the largest military populations in the U.S. There are seven military installations between the Navy, Marines and the Coast Guard. Together with the Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense, the military sector employs some 147-thousand residents and accounts for $36 billion in direct spending (2022 Military Economic Impact Report, San Diego Military Advisory Council). San Diego County has more than 200,000 veterans living in the region, according to the U.S. Census.


    The GI Film Festival San Diego is currently accepting military-veteran connected films for consideration in the 2024 festival. Films must have a military-themed story, be made by a veteran or service member, or prominently feature military or service members in above-the-line roles. Animations, period dramas, sci fi, comedy, horror and documentaries of all lengths are accepted. Student projects welcome.

    Submissions for the 2024 festival are being handled exclusively through FilmFreeway. The regular deadline is October 16 with a late deadline being Veterans Day, November 11.

    All submissions must meet requirements, which are posted on the GI Film Festival San Diego website and on FilmFreeway. Official rules for the 2024 festival include:


    * films must have been completed after January 1, 2021 and meet at least one of the following criteria:
    * a storyline or narrative arc that is about the military or the military experience during service or back home after service.
    * a film of any genre, military-themed or not, featuring above the line talent who is currently serving or has served in the military. Above the line talent includes: director, writer, producer and/or principal actor/actress.
    * U.S. and international entries are welcome.
    * Each film must be submitted separately with a submission fee paid by the entry deadline.
    * All submission fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.


    The festival accepts films in the following categories:

    * documentary shorts
    * documentary features
    * narrative shorts
    * narrative features
    * student narrative shorts
    * student documentary shorts

    Additional categories have been added for organizational purposes only.

    Sorry, screenplays, music videos, marketing videos, PSAs and non-profit institutional videos or testimonials that are not independently produced are not eligible.

    The full list of rules and requirements can be found on FilmFreeway.


    The film festival is guided by an Advisory Committee, an all-volunteer group of community members and professionals from film, veteran service organizations, and other non-profits. Organizations represented include Project Recover, the Foundation for Women Warriors, Travis Manion Foundation, Elizabeth Hospice, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Blue Star Families San Diego, Southern Caregiver Resource Center, the Joan & Art Barron Veterans Center at San Diego State University, Courage to Call, and others. Members of the advisory committee come from various military backgrounds, including veterans of the US Marine Corps, US Air Force, US Navy, US Army, and military spouses. 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.

    The festival is organized by KPBS in partnership with the Film Consortium San Diego. The 2024 festival is sponsored in part by the USS Midway Foundation and Veterans United Home Loans of San Diego.

    The GI Film Festival San Diego is a member of the San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative.

    Please mark your calendars for these important dates~

    Regular Deadline:
    October 16, 2023

    Late Deadline:
    November 11, 2023

    Annual Festival Event Dates:
    May 6-11, 2024
  • 10/16/23 at 1:00 AM -
    5/11/24 at 1:00 AM
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