Veterans’ Film Festival showcases life during, after war


Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez/San Jacinto College Marketing

From left: Bruce Williamson, Julie Jay and Charles Vaughn prepare to rehearse for ‘War of the Worlds.’

The Veterans in Our Community Festival kicks off Oct. 30 on all three campuses at San Jacinto College providing a look at the experiences of American soldiers throughout history.

The Festival will run through Spring 2014 and feature a variety of speakers and different events. On Nov. 11, in commemoration of Veterans’ Day, the festival’s focus shifts to a film showcase lasting until Nov. 16.

Patience Wieland, a South Campus Multimedia Support Specialist and the Festival’s film organizer said she hopes the films will enlighten attendees.

“Films and plays are a great way to communicate, and help people appreciate and understand each other. It’s my hope that people will go see these films and not only be entertained, but gain a little insight,” Wieland said.

According to Wieland, the films will highlight different conflicts in American history.

“We selected movies that would cover a range of historical periods and experiences from World War II all the way to the present,” she added.

Wieland said she understands soldiers are not the only ones affected by war and wanted to express this sentiment through the Festival’s film choices.

“Military family members: spouses and children, parents, siblings. They have challenges too, with the separations and worry. So you’ll see those more universal experiences in some of the films we picked, but these films also have very personal, unique stories to tell,” Wieland said.

Along with films, the week will also feature a live audio drama where the Foley artists and actors perform live on stage. “Over Here, Over There,” scheduled for Nov. 13 on South campus, presents a long-range historical collection of veterans’ experiences in a radio play format.

Wieland said she was able to reach out to Hollywood to add a special element to this performance.

“We expanded the story to include Americans who had been veterans and survivors of other conflicts, like the Civil and Revolutionary Wars,” Wieland said. “The actors have had fun looking into the real life history of the characters they play. I also received permission from the estate of Marion Hargrove, a Hollywood screenwriter, and best-selling author during WWII, to use some of his memoirs in the play.”

Wieland said audio drama audiences rely on their imaginations to get the full effect of the performance.

“Audio drama is a lot of fun to listen to, and watch live on stage. Some people like to close their eyes and picture everything. That’s why it’s called Theatre of the Mind,” Wieland said.

An event with such a diverse range of entertainment has never been seen before at San Jac, said Central Campus English professor David LeMaster who is working alongside Wieland.

“We’ve done radio shows in the past,” LeMaster said, “As far as movies go, we haven’t had a festival quite like this.”

All events are open to the public and free of charge. Event organizers suggest a donation of a non-perishable food item to the San Jac food pantries. A full schedule of the festival’s screenings and other events is available at