Preview screening of selections of ‘The Vietnam War’, a new film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick scheduled for May in San Diego as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego

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San Diego welcomes award winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for an advance preview screening featuring selections of “THE VIETNAM WAR,” their latest collaboration. The screening event is Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego. The event is free and open to the public. 

San Diego welcomes award winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for an advance preview screening featuring selections of “THE VIETNAM WAR,” their latest collaboration. The screening event is Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego. The event is free and open to the public. 

The San Diego screening event will feature specially selected excerpts followed by a discussion with Burns and Novick. The 18-hour documentary will air in Sept. 2017 on KPBS and PBS stations nationwide. Portions of the series are also expected to be presented during the GI Film Festival San Diego, scheduled for Oct. 18-22, 2017.

In an immersive narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never-before been told on film. “THE VIETNAM WAR” features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns said. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart. There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way — from those who fought and sacrificed in the war, to families of service members and POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens. More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.”

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy. Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the human dimensions of the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick said. “In addition to dozens of ‘ordinary’ Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many ‘ordinary’ Vietnamese soldiers and non-combatants in the North and South, and we were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us.”

Six years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations and more than 100 iconic musical recordings by many of the greatest artists of the era.

“Our city is home to one of the largest populations of refugees, veterans, and peace activists from the era,” says KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “We welcome anyone interested in the war’s legacy and lessons. With both Lynn and Ken expected to attend, we look forward to a compelling night of film, history, and dialogue.”

Tickets for the screening event are open to the public and free with registration. Registration opens to the general public on April 3 at www.GIFilmFestivalSD.org. Event organizers will also make tickets available to partner organizations including USO San Diego, Veterans Museum at Balboa Park, the San Diego Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, San Diego Veterans Coalition, Little Saigon San Diego Foundation, San Diego Public Libraries, and university campuses. 

Public questions for the filmmakers will be solicited before the screening via social media, through emails to gifilmfestsd@kpbs.org, and confirmed RSVPs.  Questions will be asked during the post-screening discussion. 

“THE VIETNAM WAR” rounds out a trilogy of Florentine Films’ exploration of American wars that began with Burns’s landmark series, THE CIVIL WAR (1990), followed by Burns and Novick’s acclaimed seven-part series about World War II, THE WAR (2007).

Accompanying the series will be a companion book, written by Geoffrey C. Ward, with an introduction by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that will be published by Alfred A. Knopf Burns’s longtime publisher. 

Funding for “THE VIETNAM WAR” is provided by: Bank of America; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; Park Foundation; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; National Endowment for the Humanities; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Ford Foundation Just Films; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and Members of The Better Angels Society.

“THE VIETNAM WAR” is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, D.C. Directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by Sarah Botstein, Lynn Novick and Ken Burns.

The screening event is supported by WETA and organized by KPBS as part of the GI Film Festival San Diego.

About the GI Film Festival San Diego

The GI Film Festival San Diego is organized by KPBS in partnership with the GI Film Group and the Film Consortium San Diego to promote understanding of the American military and veteran experience and bridge the civilian and military divide through compelling films and events. The festival takes place October 18-22, 2017 throughout San Diego County. Sponsors of the 2017 GI Film Festival San Diego include GEICO Military, Bob Baker Subaru, and Scatena Daniels Communications. Alaska Airlines is the official travel sponsor.

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