GI Film Festival promises a wild ride

WASHINGTON – The GI Film Festival will bring celebrities, red carpets and world premiere films to the area throughout the next few days.

GI Festival President and Co-founder Brandon Millet says this year’s festival, which is transforming from a D.C.-based event to an international film festival, will showcase 50 films.

“We’re going to be spanning the Civil War all the way through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Millet says. “We’re covering every branch of service. We have virtually every genre of film that you could possibly imagine, so I think that this is our most diverse lineup to date in the seven years we’ve been doing the festival.”

The festival began Monday and runs through Sunday at various locations in D.C., Arlington and Alexandria.

Here are some highlights:

  • A Thursday screening of “Iron Man 3″ features special guest actor Mykelti Williamson, who played Bubba in “Forrest Gump.” He also appears in FX’s current series, “Justified.”
  • Friday night is the world premiere of the new film from director Ron Maxwell (“Gettysburg,” “Gods and Generals”). “Copperhead” is inspired by actual events, and Maxwell will appear at the screening. Watch the trailer for “Copperhead” below.

  • “The Hornet’s Nest,” a documentary about a father and son who embed with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, screens Saturday.

    “It is some of the most intense combat footage you will ever want to see,” says Millet about the film.

    Before the screening of “Hornet’s Nest”, country superstar Wynonna Judd will be presented with the GI Spirit Award. Watch the trailer for “Hornet’s Nest” below.

  • Sunday brings the U.S. premiere of “Unclaimed,” a controversial documentary about a man in Vietnam who claims to be an American missing in action. Watch the trailer for “Unclaimed” below.

  • Sunday is also the world premiere of “Always Faithful,” a moving documentary film about U.S. Marine dog teams that hunt explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Watch the trailer for “Always Faithful” below.

    “Always Faithful” Trailer from Allentown Productions on Vimeo.

“We try to make this film festival as accessible as possible to everyone,” says Millet.

Tickets for the festival’s films cost around $12, and usually include two films, explains Millet.

“Sometimes you get a short film and a feature film. You also have the opportunity to interact with the filmmaker through Q&A and things of that nature, so it’s a special experience,” he says.

Millet says the primetime events are some of the best deals in the city.

“For $50 you can see a great film, meet a celebrity, and then go to a reception and eat and drink and have fun,” he says.

Millet says those who take part in the entire festival are in for quite the ride.

“I always tell people when they come to the event, if they go start to finish, they’re going to experience every conceivable human emotion. That’s what this event is. It’s that intense.”

Buying tickets in advance is highly recommended, and members of the military are eligible for discounts. A full overview of the festival schedule can be found online.

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