The three-day GIFF Hollywood 2012 is hosted by the Los Angeles Film School at Sunset and Vine, an institution which has done an outstanding job training Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans in film production. So there couldn’t be a more appropriate location for the festival's Veteran’s Day celebration.
The D.C.-based festival began six years ago by West Point graduate Major Laura Law Millett and her husband Brandon Millet. It's the only film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film.
“Our mission is to preserve the stories of American veterans and educate the public about the successes and sacrifices they make every day on our behalf,” said festival Co-Founder and President Brandon Millett. “Bringing the festival to Hollywood exemplifies how we are adhering to that mission – growing our audience and sharing the stories of families affected by conflict and war.”
Friday’s opening VIP event will also honor television, film and Broadway actress Christy Carlson Romano for her efforts entertaining the troops overseas. Only a few short years ago she was the Disney Channel heartthrob in successful teen series like "Even Stevens." Romano has now appeared on Broadway as Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" and transitioned into more grown up roles in recent films like "Loosies," "Infected" and the soon to be released "Fickle."
The multi-talented 28-year-old is also a gifted singer who has performed for the troops in dangerous venues like Afghanistan.
Opening night will also feature a screening of the award-winning war drama "The Red Machine," artfully directed by Stephanie Argy. The wonderfully realized period piece, set in D.C. circa 1935, follows a charming thief who is forced to help a mysterious U.S. Naval Intelligence operative steal a device that the Japanese military is using to encode its top-secret messages. Think "48 Hours" meets "The Sting" in uniform.
Lee Perkins stands out as a tough, smart and stoic Naval Intelligence Officer with a secret that could adversely affect his dangerous undercover assignment. Donal Thoms Cappello is the perfect streetwise foil to the John Wayne-like Perkins who manages to checkmate the over-confident cat burglar’s every move.
Argy and her crew made numerous Southern California locations stand in beautifully for Washington D.C. in 1935 – all on a shoestring of a budget. "The Red Machine" shows just what a talented group of filmmakers who love what they’re doing can achieve on a “wing and a prayer.”
Other GIFF Hollywood film screenings include "The Lost Airmen of Buchenwald" at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and a double feature including "8:46" and "From Philadelphia to Fallujah" starting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.