Laura Law-Millett, 43, is the co-founder with her husband, Brandon Millett, of the GI Film Festival, a D.C.-based festival focused on features, documentaries and shorts that “honor the heroic stories” of the American military. It runs May 18-24 in Washington and at the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax.
Why do we need a GI Film Festival?
Because in a nation where less and less people actually serve in the military, most people don’t know what it means to serve. By educating the public, it’s going to help veterans who are transitioning and returning home and looking for employment. Maybe the person interviewing them or hiring them will have a better understanding of what that veteran has been through. It’s really just to bridge that divide between people who have served and people who haven’t served.
You were in the Army for 14 years. Is there a movie that really captures army life for you?
Last year there was a film that we screened called “Fort Bliss,” starring Michelle Monaghan. And I thought that that really captured some of the things that women in the service have to go through. I felt that I could relate to a lot of the decisions that she had to make in that movie.
Are there any movies in your festival that show GIs in a negative light?
Well, we definitely don’t whitewash the experience of us military. What we try to do is find films that are fair and show a more balanced approach. And when there’s a film that has a military member doing something wrong, then their punishment is fitting. A lot of our films are about coming back from war: Soldiers dealing with PTS, soldiers relating to their spouse. And not all of that’s pretty. But we often look for films that are hopeful, that find solutions in the end.
Do people in the military want to see movies about
war or do they want movies that offer some sort of escape?
I’d say it’s a combination. I think they appreciate being able to connect. A few years ago we showed a Vietnam film and a Vietnam vet was in the audience. Afterward he came up to me and said, “It was the first time I had cried in 30 years, because I saw a film that showed exactly what me and my buddies had gone through.”
What’s your favorite non-war movie?
Oh, wow! This is going to be completely off-the-wall, but one of my favorite movies of all time is “Mary Poppins.” There’s something about that movie that’s just engaging and delightful.
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