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The GI Film Festival San Diego (GIFFSD) is a multi-day showcase of films for, by and about military and veterans. 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.

The next juried festival, May 6-11, 2024, will be held at MOPA in central San Diego, CA. The festival includes the Local Film Showcase, which features San Diego’s filmmakers, events, people, or places.

Submissions of military experience themed films are open to filmmakers of every level from first-timers to pros, including international stories and filmmakers. Submissions are also accepted from filmmakers who serve, or have served in the military, regardless of whether or not the film submission is military-themed. Films that reflect and amplify the diverse experiences of our military and veterans are especially desired, including stories by or about people of various ethnicities, races, genders, economic backgrounds and those who identify LGBTQIA+.

Highlights of the festival include post-screening discussions with filmmakers, actors and documentary subjects; an opening night reception; networking opportunities; and an awards celebration honoring filmmakers, actors and film subjects.

GI FILM FESTIVAL SAN DIEGO TENTATIVE AWARDS
Best Narrative Short
Best Documentary Short
Best Narrative Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Film Made by or Starring Military or Veterans
Best Documentary Made by Military or Veterans
Best Narrative Starring Military or Veterans
Best Narrative Directed by Military or Veterans
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best First-Time Filmmaker
Best First-Time Director
Best Student Short- Documentary
Best Student Short- Narrative
Best International Film
Founders' Choice Award

LOCAL FILM SHOWCASE TENTATIVE AWARDS
Best Narrative Short- Local Film Showcase
Best Documentary Short- Local Film Showcase
Best Narrative Feature- Local Film Showcase
Best Documentary Feature- Local Film Showcase
Best Student Film- Local Film Showcase
Best Film Made by or Starring Military or Veterans- Local Film Showcase
Local Choice Award (Note: Only films where at least 60% of the cast, crew and locations have been sourced from San Diego County or Imperial County are eligible.)

PLEASE NOTE: Each category must have a minimum of three official selections to remain as an award category. If jurors deem all films in a category undeserving of awards, they can elect to not choose an award for that category.

Official winners will be recognized during the festival’s Awards Celebration. Their films will also be considered for local broadcast on KPBS. Certain requirements will need to be met prior and separate agreements will be signed with the KPBS programming team. Non-cash prizes may be awarded pending availability of festival partnerships.

GI FILM FESTIVAL SAN DIEGO REQUIREMENTS
To be selected for the 2024 GI Film Festival San Diego, films must have been completed after January 1, 2021 and meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. A storyline or narrative arc that is about the military or the military experience during service or back home after service.
2. 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.

LOCAL FILM SHOWCASE REQUIREMENTS
To qualify for the 2024 GI Film Festival San Diego’s Local Film Showcase, films must have been completed and released after January 1, 2021 and meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. A storyline or narrative arc that is about the military experience within San Diego County or Imperial County.
2. A military themed film that is made by individual(s) who reside in San Diego County or Imperial County.
3. A military themed film that features more than 60% of cast and crew from San Diego County or Imperial County.
4. A military themed film that was shot or edited within San Diego County or Imperial County.
5. A film of any genre featuring local above the line talent who is currently serving or has served in the military. Local filmmaker should reside in San Diego County or Imperial County. Above the line talent includes: director, writer, producer and/or principal actor/actress.

To be considered for the Local Choice Award, the film must have at least 60% of the cast, crew and locations sourced from San Diego County or Imperial County.

SUBMISSION CATEGORIES
We accept films in the following categories: documentary shorts, documentary features, narrative shorts, narrative features, student narrative shorts and student documentary shorts. Additional categories have been added for organizational purposes only. Student made films should be submitted under Student categories.

Films under 55 minutes are considered short films. Films 55 minutes and over are considered feature films.

PLEASE NOTE: We do not accept screenplays, music videos, marketing videos, PSAs and non-profit institutional videos or testimonials that are not independently produced.


GENERAL RULES
Competition is open to U.S. and international entries. There is no limit to the number of films you can submit. Each film must be submitted separately with a submission fee paid by the entry deadline via FilmFreeway. All submission fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.

Works-in-progress/incomplete films (still in need of color correction, final credits, soundtrack, score, etc.) may be submitted for review and consideration by the Early Bird or Regular Deadlines so long as they are clearly marked as incomplete and which elements are still being worked on. Final Cuts of incomplete films must be submitted by the Late Deadline. Incomplete films will not be screened at the festival.

Previously rejected films by the GI Film Festival San Diego should not be re-submitted into competition unless specifically invited to re-submit. Please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding this.

Non English-language films must be subtitled in English.

Entrants shall obtain all licenses, royalties, and permits necessary to present their work. Entrant will assume all costs arising from the use of patented, trademarked, franchised, or copyrighted music, materials, devices, processes, or dramatic rights used in production of work.

DEADLINES AND FEES
Submission fees must be paid by the deadline prior to being reviewed by festival programmers.

Festival will not pay exhibition/screening/rental fees for any accepted entries submitted through our general call for entries.

AWARD ELIGIBILITY
STUDENT AWARDS: If you pay the student submission fee rate, you must provide a copy of your student ID. Your film -completed while in school (elementary, middle, high school, college, university, film school, or workshops)- will be considered as a student film entry and only be considered for Student awards.

LOCAL FILM SHOWCASE AWARDS: To be considered for these awards, please include a notation in your submission which indicates the San Diego local connection. If you wish to be considered for the Local Film Showcase Local Choice Award award, also include a description of the 60% local connection on the CUSTOM SUBMISSION FORM.

BEST FILM MADE BY OR STARRING MILITARY OR VETERANS: This award is only awarded to a filmmaker (Director, Producer, Writer) that is a veteran or active duty filmmaker OR to a principal/lead-actor or principal/lead-actress that is a veteran or active duty. Please include a notation in your submission that indicates who the veteran and/or active duty above the line talent are and their military connection. This information can also be provided on the CUSTOM SUBMISSION FORM. If your film does not display an obvious military connection and you do not provide a notation with your submission regarding the connection, your film will be disqualified. Please note there are no refunds.

JUDGING AND SELECTION PROCESS:
Judging Round One:
The first round of judging consists of a technical review of the submissions. A volunteer group of industry professionals judge the films on their general Story/Plot, Production Value, and Sound Quality. Each criterion will be judged on a scale of 1-10. Top scoring films will move to round two.

Judging Round Two:
Round two consists of a panel of festival advisers who will watch the films, score them, and recommend for awards. Highest scoring films will be selected by KPBS for inclusion in the festival.

Judging Round Three:
Judges designated by KPBS will select the winners in each award category.

Selection:
Official selections will be notified of their status via email from GIFilmFestivalSD@kpbs.org (add to your contacts now) or FilmFreeway’s notification system on or around our notification date.

Selected films may be screened more than once during the course of the Festival at our discretion. They will also likely be screened securely online especially in the case that an in-person festival viewing experience is not possible.


FILM/VIDEO ENTRIES
All submissions will only be handled online via FilmFreeway.com and should include links to view your film along with passwords if password-protected. No physical screeners will be accepted or viewed. This ensures that your film receives proper attention and consideration by the Selection Committee.

If selected for the festival, filmmakers will be required, no later than February 22, 2024, to provide a DCP for festival presentation and a stereo QuickTime file as a backup. In the situation that our festival chooses to go virtual if an in person festival is not a safe option, MP4 videos with h.264 codec will also be required. Hard drives, thumb drives and DCPs should be shipped in sturdy, reusable containers or bubble wrap envelopes with return shipping information enclosed. DCPs and drives provided will be returned after the festival run. The festival will incur the cost of the film's return. If available, direct links for download of files may also be provided.

Should your film be selected, we strongly encourage you to provide closed captioning for our audience members who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

LIABILITY
Although every possible care will be taken with drives and films while in our possession, we cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage during shipping, handling, or screening. Do not send original prints or master drives. The festival reserves the right to pull any film from competition and screening for any reason whatsoever without incurring liability.

REPRODUCTION AGREEMENT
Submission of an entry gives the festival permission to have excerpts of accepted work, including trailers, shown at promotional activities related to the festival including on TV, Radio, and on Social Media unless otherwise requested in writing by the filmmaker. If selected, a signed release from the filmmaker will be required.

Any additional inquiries, please email: GIFilmFestivalSD@kpbs.org

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • yelena krivosheyeva

    This is a niche festival that is very specifically geared towards veteran filmmakers and audience and it is spectacular. Fantastic organization and communication! The best venue we screened at so far that required 2K DCP which is unfortunately not so common among the festivals anymore. Great networking events and panels, a lot of free food and drinks, great media coverage. I am not even a veteran filmmaker and I was treated so nicely! I can't recommend this festival enough. Thank you for having us!

    May 2024
  • Robert Darwell

    I was thrilled that the GI Film Festival SD selected to screen "Black Uniform." The screening venue is Balboa Park is beautiful and the Festival chose a strong moderator and a very interesting and moving veteran guest for Q and A after the screening. There was a lot of regular communication leading up to the Festival. My only disappointment (which is not insignificant) was that after paying for travel and accommodations to attend, The Festival did not make arrangements for me to have a single ticket attend its sold-out opening night film/program even though my film screened the next day (I haven't experienced that at other festivals). That aside, this is a wonderful festival that provides a valuable platform showcasing movies by, for and about the military and veterans.

    May 2024
  • It was great honor for my, winning best animated

    May 2024
  • Frances Causey

    I literally can't say enough good things about this festival. From onset of acceptance through the awards, the staff was courteous, informative and gracious. Special thank you to Carla Conner who informed us every step of the way! super email correspondence, updates etc. thank you!

    May 2024
  • John Mendoza

    We LOVED the San Diego GI Film Festival! The quality of films was exceptional and the staff was very supportive. The panels were fun and informative and. I encourage filmmakers to submit to this wonderful festival. the San Diego GI Film Festival's been the highlight of our festival run!

    June 2023