OCTOBER 18 – 22, 2023

The Hornets Nest Movie

Dale’s Corner: Honoring Our Military Through Film


From the beginning we set out with the intent to make the festival a reflection of the city and county that hosts it and to create a platform with the power to transform.

Among many things, San Diego is a military town. It’s bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the principal home port to the Naval Pacific Fleet, and home of Pendleton Marine base. It’s the second largest military town in the United States. It just seemed natural the military should be meaningfully reflected part of the festival. The question was how?

ImagesIn 2014 we screened “The Hornet’s Nest”, a documentary by David Salzburg and Christian Tureaud. The Hornet’s Nest is a groundbreaking and immersive feature documentary, using unprecedented real footage to tell the story of an elite group of U.S. troops sent on a dangerous mission deep inside one of Afghanistan’s most hostile valleys.

The reaction to the film that night was an eye opener. We saw a lot of tears flowing from men and women who had served, their spouses, who for the first time were understanding what their loved ones had experienced, and civilians who discovered what service to country in combat really meant.

Yes, tears everywhere and most importantly understanding. The kind of understanding that gives a new meaning to what our warriors experienced, as well as why and how we can support those warriors and their families.

That experience opened our eyes to the fact that today’s voluntary military force, the smallest in history, is fighting the longest war in our history. The result is in far too many deployments for our warriors who are then expected to come home and integrate back into our communities like nothing ever happened.

Most shocking of all, we discovered a growing Military – Civilian Gap.

This has left those involved in the military, especially media participants like war correspondents, to wonder where the missing stories are; where are stories about female veterans, of those strengthened and enriched by their military service, and that are told by actual veterans?

Issues like these have motivated military and civic organizations to find ways to bring understanding to both sides. Governmental organizations like Stand Together and nonprofits like the USO have been working towards solutions. The idea is facilitate conversation between these two groups that is both casual and engaging.


With the help of advisory boards from both the military and the entertainment industry, SDFF’s plan is to honor our military veterans by telling their stories and highlighting the struggle and triumph of these brave men and women in order to help bring closure for them, create understanding for their families, and unite the community at large.

By creating a specific track that features military stories, putting on special public events, and creating a filmmaking education program, SDFF hopes to create an environment of discourse between people of all backgrounds to address this important issue.

Like the rest of the United States, San Diego is filled with service men and women who have stories to tell. It’s illuminating narratives like these that can help to further close this gap, helping military members to share and allowing civilians to identify with their experience.

If you are interested in making a positive contribution to this issue or other ones like it, then we encourage you to become a member of the San Diego Foundation. As an active member, you’ll be able to support the growth of these programs and help determine San Diego’s role in creating a more unified, global community. As a member, you’ll benefit from invitations to year-round VIP events, free valet parking, VIP credentials at the film festival, and much more.

Help start the conversation and purchase a VIP Pass today.