By David Dixon
Various film festivals in San Diego have been growing over the last few years. The San Diego Film Festival and the Coronado Island Film Festival are small sample of local cinematic events drawing plenty of attention in 2017.
Another fairly new celebration of movies is the GI Film Festival San Diego, which started in 2015. Selections focus on stories about the military, or feature people behind the scenes with ties to the military.
This year’s San Diego festival (the original GI Film Festival actually began in 2007 in Washington D.C.) includes stories made in California as well as around the world.
One short, dark, San Diego comedy, “Fletcher and Jenks,” might not seem like an obvious choice for the festivities. It’s a funny, mismatched buddy cop adventure about a clueless detective, Fletcher (Mission Valley resident, George Jac), and his new focused partner, Jenks (Kayla Schaffroth). They attempt to solve a case involving a killer known as “The Handyman.”
Director Tony Olmos’ mystery premiered in 2016 as part of the 48 Hour Film Project in San Diego. Since its premiere, Jac was nominated for Best Actor for last year’s competition and for the 2017 San Diego Film Awards.
Five years ago, Jac moved to Mission Valley, and he really enjoys places like Riverwalk Golf Club and Hazard Center.
“Fletcher and Jenks” is featured Oct. 21 as part of the Local Film Showcase: Made By or Starring Veterans at AMC Mission Valley. On Saturday evening, the awards celebration for the showcase will be at KPBS. There is a good chance the comical tale could win for categories like Best Narrative Short, Best Actor for Jac and Best Actress for Schaffroth.
A few people behind and in front of the camera served their country in the past. Producer Ryan Binse, is a naval veteran, and actor/cinematographer Luke Anthony Pensabene is a marine veteran. Besides being the director of photography, Pensabene plays Luke, a cabdriver, who becomes essential to the plot.
Partially responsible for choosing “Fletcher and Jenks” is the founder/president of the Film Consortium San Diego, Jodi Cilley. “Our ongoing goal is to bring San Diego filmmakers in town, get them working together on projects and increase the quality and quantity of work produced in the city,” she said. “We’ve been around for five years.”
Her social venture, along with KPBS and the GI Film Group, are helping to present the event.
She is impressed by the talents of former servicemen like Binse and Pensabane. “A lot of people that come out of the military have skillsets that are perfect for the film industry,” she said. “A personal goal of mine is to incorporate as much of the military community in the cinematic community as possible.”
Similar to Cilley, Jac sees parallels between the military and the motion picture industry. “People in the military are trained with discipline and hierarchy, which is similar to how the film industry works,” he said. “I want the GI Film Festival San Diego to be a testament to their talent.”
Although Jac never went to the festival before, he plans on seeing different flicks during his free time. “There are several friends of mine who have films that are going to be screening,” he said. “I definitely want to see their movies.”
Some point in the not too distant future, Jac could reprise his role as Fletcher. “Olmos is thinking about following up the flick with a web series about similar crime cases,” he said. “Many people that worked on ‘Fletcher and Jenks’ would like to team up again in the future.”
Mixing artistry with genuine patriotism, the GI Film Festival San Diego offers entertainment that shines a light on real heroes. Jac is very enthusiastic to be a part of such a meaningful experience.
The GI Film Festival San Diego will continue through Sunday. For tickets or more information, visit gifilmfestival.org.
—David Dixon is a freelance theater and film writer. Reach him at email@example.com.