“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
From 6-12 May 2013, I took Mrs. Roosevelt’s advice to heart while I experienced my first GI Film Festival in Washington D.C. A dear friend of mine has been trying to get me here for years but I found it a challenge living in a suburb of Philadelphia. However, fate had other plans in mind. This year, when she came calling again, I was able to partake in the event.
My time was well spent as I met a plethora of individuals throughout the week. Their expertise varied from one end of the spectrum to the other which provided me many opportunities for interesting conversations. I was amid multicultural filmmakers, performers, active military, wounded warriors, veterans, producers, philanthropists, staffers, volunteers and attendees. It was an interesting group with one common goal: to not only provide an insightful look into that of the military way of life before, during and after enlistment but also to show our much-needed support.
What I found most moving was the consistent theme of humanity, which was entwined and infused throughout the GIFF. Many festival goers were moved to their core during the eye-opening documentaries, short & feature films alike. Each evening hosted a reception which provided attendees and filmmakers the chance to engage with one another and discuss what had been seen earlier in the day. Each director had a unique message that they hoped the audience would take-away with them. After seeing some of the films, I can assure you that the depiction of our military via nightly news just does not do them the justice they deserve.
The founders of the GI Film Festival, Laura Law-Millet and Brandon Millet should be extremely proud of what they have accomplished in these seven short years. The programs were moving and emotionally raw at times; however, spirits were uplifted during the evening receptions amidst all their splendor and class. This provided attendees and exhibitors the chance to refuel and recharge which beckoned to the tried and true film tactic: comic relief.
More than ever, I am in awe of the selflessness exhibited on a daily basis by those men and women who protect our freedoms. I will be ever grateful for this opportunity and here’s hoping year eight is better than its predecessor. Please support the GI Film Festival of 2014. I know I will. This little lady’s “Got Your 6!”