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GI Film Festival salutes the military

Posted: October 9th, 2015 | Arts & Entertainment, Top Stories | No Comments

By Ken Williams | Editor

The GI Film Festival, which originated almost a decade ago in Washington, D.C., will be coming to San Diego from Oct. 13 through Oct. 18, with a number of events scheduled in Mission Valley.

The festival kicks off with a screening of the 2014 British film, “Kilo Two Bravo,” a dramatic retelling of a harrowing rescue in the midst of the Afghanistan conflict. The gala event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla. Director Paul Katis will speak at a Q&A session afterward, followed by a reception.

(l to r) Jeanne Scott, Devin Scott and Jean Landis at the Montys on Sept. 18 (Courtesy of Devin Scott)

(l to r) Jeanne Scott, Devin Scott and Jean Landis at the Montys on Sept. 18 (Courtesy of Devin Scott)

The Mission Valley screenings will be Oct. 17-18 at the UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center. Find out the full schedule of events at GIFilmFestivalSD.org.

The closing night celebration will be at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego – Mission Valley. Filmmakers featured in the Local Film Showcase will receive awards in multiple categories. The celebration will feature special guests and entertainment by the GI’s of Comedy.

Two local filmmakers, whose documentaries will be shown at the UltraStar, participated in a Q&A with Mission Valley News.

A Q&A with Devin Scott

“She Wore Silver Wings” (U.S.) — 30-minute documentary short (2010) directed by Devin Scott, of Spring Valley.
Showing on Sunday, Oct. 18, beginning at noon, at UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center.

Q: What is “She Wore Silver Wings” about?

Devin Scott [DS]: “She Wore Silver Wings” is the story of Jean Landis, my great aunt on my mother’s side and her experience as a WASP, Women Air Force Service Pilots.

Jean Landis during WWII (Courtesy Devin Scott)

Jean Landis during WWII (Courtesy Devin Scott)

Q: Why is it important to tell the story of the WASPs?

DS: Growing up I had always heard stories of the WASPs around the dinner table and wanted to tell my Aunt Jean’s story while she was still around to be able to appreciate it. She turned 97 last week.

Q: What does Aunt Jean mean to you?

DS: Jean Landis has always been an inspiration to me. Having pursued a dream, and achieved it, left an indelible mark on my life.

Q: What lingering impression do you want to stay with viewers of your documentary?

DS: I would like the viewers to come away from watching the film with the appreciation of the sacrifices these women made to defend our country and the barriers they broke down for all women. Also, school kids watch the film and get inspired to follow their dreams, seeing how “if she did that back then, I can do anything.”

Q: Why is this film festival important to you?

DS: As a filmmaker, you rarely get to tell the exact story you want, but with this film I was able to tell a very personal view of a moment in military history. The GI Film Festival is the perfect platform for my aunt to come and answer questions after the film for aviation and history buffs alike.

Q: Do you have a day job, and if so, what do you do?

DS: My wife Jeanne Scott and I own a television production company called American Dream Cinema. We produce documentaries, marketing films and TV commercials. “She Wore Silver Wings” received four regional Emmy awards. [His production company’s website is americandreamcinema.com.]

Filmmaker Devin and great aunt Jean (Courtesy of Devin Scott)

Filmmaker Devin and great aunt Jean (Courtesy of Devin Scott)

Q&A with Brian Mahoney

“Down But Not Out: The Story of Forrest Lang” — 5.36-minute documentary short (2014) directed by Brian Mahoney, of Encinitas.
Showing on Sunday, Oct. 18, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at UltraStar Cinemas Mission Valley at Hazard Center.

Q: What is “Down But Not Out” about?

Brian Mahoney [BM]: “Down But Not Out” is about the story of a talented tattoo artist whose life has been plagued by misfortune. Through a series of unfortunate events as a child, Forrest Lang suffered emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of his foster parents, and ended up running away to live on the streets. He battled alcoholism, experienced the war in Iraq, and endured a life-changing tragic accident, when he shot and killed his best friend. But what the film is really about, is how he rose above all of the misfortunes in his life to not only live a happy and fulfilling life himself, but to help others who have endured similar circumstances, to do the same.

Q: Why is it important to tell this story?

BM: It’s important to tell this story because there are a lot of people out there who have had traumatic experiences in their lives. And they have to decide how they are going to let those experiences shape and mold what kind of person they are, and what their experience in life is going to be moving forward. Sharing Forrest’s story helps to give those people hope, inspiration, and proof that the human spirit is indeed resilient, and that they can push past these experiences and live a happy life.

Q: Who is Forrest Lang and how did you find him to tell his personal story?

Tattoo artist Forrest Lang with his young daughter (Courtesy Brian Mahoney)

Tattoo artist Forrest Lang with his young daughter (Courtesy Brian Mahoney)

BM: Forrest Lang is my tattoo artist. I’ve been getting tattooed by him for years [at his shop in North Park]. When you’re sitting in the tattoo chair for hours at a time getting tattooed, you do a lot of talking! Over the years of our many sessions together, Forrest would share with me in great detail the experiences he had been through.

So I would listen to these horrific events he had been through, and I was just amazed at how he was able to overcome these obstacles. And what was even more amazing to me, was how he was constantly helping other people who were going though tough times. He’s constantly giving advice, support, jobs, money or whatever he can to help out those in need. For someone who could have very easily chosen to be bitter, he instead chooses to spread happiness to everyone he comes in contact with.

Q: What lingering impression do you want to stay with viewers of your documentary?

BM: The lingering impression I want to stay with the viewers of my documentary is that your life is your choice. What happens to you does dictate who are you. You always have the final say in what your experience of life is going to be. And Forrest Lang is living proof of that.

Q: Why is this film festival important to you?

BM: This film festival is important to me because it honors the people who have served our country. Our country would not be what it is today without all of the brave men and women who have protected us and continue to protect us every second of every day. I think that it is important to honor them, and this film festival is just one small way in which we can do that.

North Park resident Forrest Lang, profiled in "Down But Not Out" (Courtesy of Brian Mahoney)

North Park resident Forrest Lang, profiled in “Down But Not Out” (Courtesy of Brian Mahoney)

Q: Do you have a day job, and if so, what do you do?

BM: My day job is running my video production company, Vaxon Films. Besides making documentaries, I also make promotional videos, commercials, film live events, produce short films, and any other kind of video that someone might need. I also edit together home video footage for families, creating nice keepsake memory videos for them to look back on over the years. I’m a father of three young children, and I know how fast they grow up! I love being able to help families preserve the wonderment of childhood years through the magic of video! My website is vaxonfilms.com.

Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and San Diego Uptown News and can be reached at ken@sdcnn.com or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.

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