By Rob McIlvaine, ARNEWSMay 6, 2011
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, May 6, 2011) -- Beginning May 9, 2011, the G.I. Film Festival will showcase stories of service, courage and sacrifice produced by filmmakers and actors on the fast track to Hollywood.
The week-long festival, held in Washington, D.C., during Armed Forces Appreciation Month, will bring Hollywood and the military together to create a venue for artists to tell the story of the American Soldier, both past and present.
It will also bring award-winning actors, such as William DeVane, Gary Sinise and Lou Diamond Phillips to Washington, D.C., along with younger filmmakers.
Chris Loverro and Tyler Elliott are two of these young filmmakers whose films will premier at the festival.
Loverro is a triple threat -- writer, producer, actor -- whose film, "Journey Home," will have its world premier May 14, 2011.
Based on his own experiences in Iraq, this film focuses on the hidden struggles and concealed emotional wounds suffered by combat veterans, while examining familiar themes, such as loss of a comrade, isolation, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loverro submitted his film to the festival, along with about 175 other filmmakers, but only "Journey Home" and 34 other films made it into the lineup for the 2011 festival.
"I created this film to help returning veterans understand that they are not alone in their suffering, that help is available, and that it's important to share their experiences, as well as the challenges their families face with their civilian neighbors," Loverro said.
Loverro is hoping that one of the outcomes of the film will allow veterans and their home communities to come together and find ways to assist in the healing and integration of returning veterans.
A native of Oakland, Calif., Loverro joined the Army twice, bookending a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and a stint with the Berkeley, Calif., Police Department.
During his second tour, in the Army Reserve this time, he volunteered for Afghanistan. Instead, he was deployed to Iraq where he was attached to the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul and Summara from 2003 to 2004.
Here, he coupled war-fighting missions with humanitarian missions, providing relief supplies for more than 3,000 refugees while building housing and schools.
After returning from Iraq to his job with Berkeley police, where he was injured in the line of duty, he retired and decided to become a filmmaker.
"I realized I had a growing desire to bring the world's attention to returning veterans' experiences, but I also wanted to honor and recognize their personal contribution, as well as those made by their families," Loverro said.
Loverro graduated from the Berkeley Digital Film Institute after submitting "Journey Home" as his thesis project.
HOOLIGANS AT WAR
Tyler Elliott's first film was produced under different circumstances.
Growing up as a young boy in northern Nevada, Elliott was captivated by the war stories his grandparents shared. Years later, while working as a videographer in 2009, the 23-year-old filmmaker decided to take his own triple threat -- producer, writer and editor, and travel alone to eastern Afghanistan.
But getting there proved difficult. Although he had tried joining the military, a couple of injuries caused rejection, so his courage to show the nature of war took another path.
"I didn't realize there were civilian contractors, septic-tank people getting hired, people rebuilding and paving the roads, building schools, going out and doing humanitarian missions," Elliott said in a newspaper interview last year.
First he wrote a plan and sent it to officials at the Nevada National Guard office. If accepted, he would follow a unit in Afghanistan for one month, documenting the work of Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
But the Nevada National Guard rejected him.
Following a multitude of phone calls to secure clearance for his film project, he was finally approved by the Department of Defense and the Public Affairs Office in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Once there, he captured the everyday lives of the Nevada Army National Guard's 1/221st Cavalry, focusing on the men of "Hooligan Platoon" on combat missions. The result, "Hooligans at War," will premier Friday afternoon during the festival at the Navy Memorial.
"Mainstream media," said Elliott in his own press release, "embeds the majority of reporters in the southern Taliban strongholds with the Marines. The public only gets a limited glance at the war through the eyes of a small percent of combat troops. "Hooligans at War allows viewers to see the other 90 percent of combat Soldiers operating in Afghanistan in completely different environments."
The viewer, he said, will experience everything from firefights, rocket attacks and improvised explosive devices, to routine patrols, life on the base and boredom.
Film topics featured during the festival include the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War, the War in Afghanistan, World War II, Vietnam, and issues facing military families and returning G.I.s.
The festival will also host an international block of films from Denmark, Holland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada at the Canadian Embassy and will debut a revolutionary interactive film technology that allows the audience to participate in how the movie plot unfolds.
Also included during the week are seminars and nightly events, including a "launch party," congressional reception, Wounded Warrior Appreciation Night, A Salute to Hollywood Patriots, a Hollywood premier screening, a "Best of the GI Film Festival" awards ceremony, and a Filmmaker Boot Camp hosted by G.I. Film Festival chairman and award-winning filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon.
For more information about the G.I. Film Festival, visit www.gifilmfestival.com.