Asian Americans in the U.S. Military: A YouTube Playlist

From Monday, April 12 to Friday, April 16 we release four films form our catalog that reinforce the remarkable contribution and honorable service of Asian Americans from World War II to Iraq. To conclude our YouTube release, we will premiere the trailer of our 2021 documentary film, Bataan Death March on Friday, April 16th!

These are the films we are on our latest YouTube playlist, “Asian Americans in the U.S. Military”

World War II

Asian Americans have served in the U.S. Military since the American Civil War. Despite growing discrimination, prejudice and attempts to involuntarily moved to internment camps during World War II, Asian Americans (specifically Nisei soldiers) volunteered and served in the U.S. Army. A large number of WWII veterans remained in the Army during the Korean War, including Asian/Pacific-Americans who were trained for combat against North Korean and Chinese forces.

David Gan: European Theater

A young David Gan joins the WWII effort, eager to serve his country. Feelings of exclusion as a Chinese-American disappear in the Army. After experiencing the loss of so many fallen comrades, David dedicates his life to those who never came home.

Nisei Soldiers: Japanese American G.I. Joes

Leaving internment camps to defend their county in Europe, Japanese-American Nisei soldiers of WWII became the most decorated unit in American history. This film tells their story.

Vietnam War

In the years following, Vietnam War, Gulf War and Iraq, Asian veterans gained greater acceptance in the military and have been recognized for their contributions. Veteran Documentary Corps stands against the ongoing hate crimes against Asian Americans around the world. Four films form our catalog reinforce the remarkable contribution and honorable service of Asian Americans from WWII to Iraq.

Fighter Pilots of Vietnam

Fighter Pilots of Vietnam is a short documentary that tells the of a gathering of American and Vietnamese fighter pilots almost fifty years after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Veteran pilots talk of their mutual respect as pilots despite their training, aerial combat encounters, and getting shot down. Today, they are friends.

Iraq War

Scott Castle: U.S. Marine Bodybuilder

Scott Castle served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. While assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division he served three combat tours in Iraq, including the First and Second Battles of Fallujah.

Worldwide Premiere of our 2021 Documentary Film

Bataan Death March

Within hours of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, bombs rained down on U.S. and Filipino forces in the Philippines. After months of vicious fighting allied forces surrendered on the island only to be met with a brutal death march to P.O.W. camps dotted across the islands. Thousands died on the marches, before even reaching the P.O.W. camps, where countless more died. The surrender of the Philippines, now almost forgotten in U.S. history is commemorated in the Philippines every year

Directed by Jesse Collier Sutterley. Written and Produced by Daniel L. Bernardi. Featuring Cecilia Gaerlan, Robert Hudson, Maria Botista Cervantes and Trevor Getz.

2020 Road Trip – Making Documentary Films During COVID-19

The VDC crew drove across Southern United States to start the filming of two remarkable documentary films and Cemetery Profiles of various National Cemeteries. There was a bittersweet emotion leaving California as uncertainty about Election Day prevailed and COVID-19 cases spiked in states we were about to travel to. Driving a 12-passenger van nicknamed “Big Blue,” the crew masked-up and was ready to face any challenges on the road.

Crew: Constanza Hevia, Director, Second Camera & Photography; Andrés Gallegos, Director & Cinematographer; Jesse Sutterley, Associate Director; Diana Sánchez, Sound Recordist & Producer.

First Stop: Bakersfield, CA – Bakersfield National Cemetery

Just off the 58 highway in Kern County, Bakersfield National Cemetery is surrounded by beautiful mountain vistas. Cemetery Director Randy Heard welcomed the team outside his office, where the interview was conducted safely. Due to the National Cemetery Expansion Act of 2003, Bakersfield National Cemetery was the among the new cemeteries approved by Congress. “The final transfer of land took place in 2008. The first interment of cremated remains occurred on July 1, 2009, and the first casketed interment the following day.” (

Second Stop: Riverside, CA

We began the shooting of two short documentary films in Riverside, CA. Constanza Hevia is Director of the short documentary about Emmet Kelly Jr., an American clown who copied his father’s 1930’s clown persona and acts. The crew visited two Guinness Book of World Records honorees and LA Circus Founders, Wini McKay and Chester Cable. McKay and Cable traveled with The Emmet Kelly Jr. Circus for a brief season. The controversy around Emmett Kelly Jr. and Sr. was only a “family matter” to McKay. She remembered Jr. fondly as a talented clown and compassionate human being.

The VDC crew had the honor to explore the magnificent and historic circus collection of LA Circus- the leading industry resource for all things circus, from Hollywood films to celebrity music videos.

On another part of Riverside, Andrés Gallegos directed the short documentary film of Latino Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Jesus “Chuy” Duran. Daughter of Jesus Duran, Tina Duran opened her home to the crew in Corona, CA and spoke about her memories of her father as a young girl. Tina Duran read the heartwarming letters Jesus Duran sent from Vietnam.

“What I love about documentary filmmaking is the opportunity to meet and connect with people. I am thankful and grateful to all the people who opened their lives to us. Filming in COVID times was challenging, but our incredible team made this a great experience and an unforgettable journey.” – Constanza Hevia

Founder of the UC Riverside Veterans Resource Center, Raymundo Ruiz made a remarkable contribution to the story of Jesus Duran. Ruiz recounted Duran’s story with both a historical lens and a personal connection; Ruiz being a veteran himself. The Latino experience in war remains untold or obscure. Raymundo Ruiz shared what the process of uncovering these stories looks like.

Mayor of Riverside, Rusty Bailey met with us to speak about his efforts in honoring three key Latino veterans in Riverside, CA. Among the three, Jesus Duran has a library and highway named after him. Mayor Bailey ensured more Latino representation during his term.

“The Road Trip was an intense experience full of teamwork and hard work. We had the opportunity to get to know great people and to tell their beautiful and meaningful stories. COVID made it challenging, but with communication and a lot of coordination, we made it work. Overall, a beautiful journey with the VDC & El Dorado Films team.” Andrés Gallegos

One of our most challenging interview set up was at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Professor of Chicano Studies, Professor Summers Sandoval accepted an interview following a COVID-19 Pomona College policy. Under COVID-19 safety guidelines, non-student individuals cannot be in an enclosed room with a professor without a mask. The crew accepted this challenge and found a creative way to interview Professor Sandoval.

Filmmaker Andrés Gallegos conducted the interview in two separate rooms. Professor Sandoval was safe in room 1 with all camera and sounds equipment. On the other room, the crew was monitoring sounds and camera via zoom and phone. Regardless of our set up, Gallegos and Professor Sandoval conducted a fairly normal interview about Latinx experience in the Vietnam War.

Third Stop: Southern Arizona

The crew drove to Arizona to resume the Emmet Kelly Jr. story and the Cemetery Profiles. At Sierra Vista, Arizona, we visited the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery and met Cemetery Director Joe Larson. “The Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services established the cemetery on approximately 145 acres of land, which was previously part of Ft. Huachuca Military Reservation.” ( Emmett Kelly Jr. is buried in this Cemetery.

Our next interviewee welcomed us into his home. Chris Berry is a Circus Historian who wrote an extensive piece about Emmet Kelly Sr and Jr. Berry was objective about the controversy between the father and son. Kelly Sr.’s “Weary Willie” was an authenticity and genius persona created from the Great Depression. Kelly Jr. only stole this persona without understanding the character or creativity behind portraying “Weary Willie.” Berry provided insight into the history of the circus.

“This was my first documentary film trip with VDC. I was very lucky to be working with professional and immensely creative filmmakers. The trip would not have been the same if we would have flown to places. Driving with the crew, with music blasting and a positive ambiance, made this shoot an authentic and inspiring experience!” – Diana Sánchez

…Then we went to historic Tombstone, Arizona. The mystical town where Emmet Kelly Jr. lived and retired. We stayed away from the big crowds of Tombstone during Halloween Day; ready to start moving to El Paso, Texas.

Fourth Stop: El Paso, Texas

The VDC team arrived safely to El Paso, Texas and met with Rosa Vásquez, sister of Jesus Durán. Rosa and her husband opened her home to us. She took the crew near the border wall between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. We spent Election Day with Rosa at a local pizza spot.

The crew concluded their visit in El Paso, Texas at Fort Bliss National Cemetery. Foreman Victor Vásquez shared with us the distinct work at the cemetery. “Fort Bliss is located in El Paso County, Texas, within the Fort Bliss Military Reservation. The fort was first established in the late 1840s at the end of the Mexican-American war, when the United States gained possession of former Mexican territories in the Southwest” ( Fort Bliss National Cemetery had its first interment on March 7, 1940.

Last Stop: Arizona, Villa La Paz – RV Park

VDC crew ended their trip in one of the most breathtaking places in Arizona. Michael Lozano was a close friend to Jesus Duran before and after the Vietnam War. Lozano himself is a Latino veteran of the Vietnam War, and he remarked during the interview that “every veteran has a movie about his service in his head.”

The crew returned safely to San Francisco. We want to thank all the families and subjects who open their homes and hearts to make the making of two wonderful documentaries. Veteran Documentary Corps thanks the invaluable work of the crew. We now move to second phase: post-production of our films.

WATCH our Behind the Scenes on El Dorado Films YouTube Channel.

Credits: Photography by Constanza Hevia, Jesse Sutterley and Diana Sánchez.

Written by Diana Sánchez

THE CELINE ARCHIVE – Uncovering a full picture of Filipinx Americans

As we begin the month with Filipinx American History Month, Veteran Documentary Corps launches this celebration by commemorating a Filipinx film and scholar. Director, Producer and Writer Celine Parreñas Shimizu disclosed the Filipinx story of Celine Navarro in her courageous documentary, THE CELINE ARCHIVE. Ten years in the making, THE CELINE ARCHIVE is receiving well-deserved attention and acclaim. Veteran Documentary Corps is proud to present this interview with Celine:

My name is Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Professor and Director of the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. I write books and make movies. I am the Director, Producer and Writer of THE CELINE ARCHIVE which is out this year along with my book THE PROXIMITY OF OTHER SKINS. Please check both out at and of course, check out the School of Cinema which I direct at

Q: Tell us about the focal subject of your film, Celine Navarro. 
Celine Navarro was a 28-year old immigrant mother of 4 buried alive by her Filipinx immigrant community in Northern California in 1932. Her story was globally followed and is largely not known today even as scholars and writers share her story and even as her story was published in the 1990s.

Q: How was the experience of researching, finding and uncovering material of Celine’s life? What was the most exceptional material you found of Celine?
Archives collect material considered important for the future of communities. There are plentiful archives—including family photo albums, library collections of donated materials and microfiche of newspaper articles, and our own memories within our bodies and our personal creative and research work; whether this is poetry, movie making or scholarship. The film THE CELINE ARCHIVE gathers the archives of all of these entities—the Filipino American National Historical Society’s national office and their museum in Stockton, the Bancroft Library, the Bank of Stockton, the Library of Congress and others. Important to mention are the scholarly work of Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, the major historian of Filipinx American history; the esteemed sociologist of immigration Rick Baldoz; important community historians Alex Fabros and Dorothy Cordova; and the work of the amazing poet Jean Vengua. Finally, the history of the family’s memories about their mother, grandmother and great grandmother is preserved in oral history and in photographs that are so well cared for across generations and locations. They each tell different stories about communities, yes, and individuals such as Celine Navarro.  

“Her realness as a woman whose descendants are not only numerous but very alive in their engagement with her memory demands an ethical representation of her story.”

Q: Tell us about the challenge of covering within the film the different, unique and distorted stories of Celine’s death?
There are hierarchies within communities regarding whose narrative and whose perspective is privileged in history. The headlines presented Celine Navarro as an adulteress who stole money from her sick husband, violating the moral codes of a new immigrant community who were racially subjected vis a vis lynching, race riots, and the burning of their makeshift homes in Watsonville, Stockton and other communities in the Central Coast of California in the earlier 20th century. Scholars uncovered a different story: she testified against four men who beat up a man protecting a white woman from her abusive husband. Her testimony sent the men to prison, and her act of feminist intervention violated the code of loyalty organizing the community. Her sisters told a different story: she was preyed upon not only by a male leader of her community who wanted her sexually, but her husband encouraged her to submit. These competing narratives enrich our understanding of women in Filipinx American history largely dominated by men. I wanted to center her gendered story within an unavoidably racial narrative. Lastly, her realness as a woman whose descendants are not only numerous but very alive in their engagement with her memory demands an ethical representation of her story. She was a real woman whose story may not be known completely. Whether a mystery or tragedy, the various versions compose the many possibilities of women’s lives previously overlooked that can now be known. 

“We are not only subjugated by racism but contend with gender hierarchies within our communities that we must confront and make better.”

Q: What would you want THE CELINE ARCHIVE to represent in the Filipinx Community? 
The film is an invitation to honor women’s stories within our community. Filipinx Americans are the largest Asian American ethnic group in California—for the community to know her is to reckon with our past and the continuing subjection of women whether in bodies and desires imposed upon them by others, or the ongoing projects of their self-determination and self-sovereignty. There is unfinished business in the project of empowering women in our community and this story demands for a fuller picture of our history. We are not only subjugated by racism but contend with gender hierarchies within our communities that we must confront and make better. 

Q: Share with us additional remarks about the making of the film.
Please see the film now! It took ten years to make and twenty more to simmer and brew. And to see it during Filipinx American History Month this October 2020 is special. We are in our own homes and watching it via virtual film festivals enables its easier viewing. The film will screen across California on October 14-18 at There is a conversation with me, the eminent historian Catherine Choy of Berkeley and the legendary poet Jean Vengua after every screening. It will screen internationally at the LA FEMME International Film Festival on October 15-16 with a pre-screening conversation on Thursday, October 15 at 5pm PT with the noted historian Shelley Lee at The national premiere will be at the San Diego Asian Film Festival on October 23-31 with a conversation between me and the great curator and scholar Brian Hu. All links and info for these screenings and more are at  


Bay Area Premiere: CAAMFest
See a conversation with Director Celine Shimizu, Historian Catherine Choy and Poet Jean Vengua after every screening. Tickets on sale October 5, 2020

OCTOBER 15 @ 6pm – OCTOBER 16 @ 7:45pm PDT
International Premiere: LA Femme International Film Festival
Online | Q&A Event for October 15 at 5pm PDT

OCTOBER 23 – 31
National Premiere: San Diego Asian Film Festival

Future Screenings

Reel Sisters of the Diaspora in NYC (Virtual)
Montreal Independent Film Festival 
Chicago Indie Film Awards
New Directors NYC 
Seattle True Independent Film Festival
World of Film International Film Festival Glasgow
Hollywood International Diversity Film Festival 
Switzerland International Film Festival 

Retired Navy Captain, Kathleen Bruyere, Dies at 76

Retired Navy Captain, trailblazer for women’s equality and volunteer at the Miramar National Cemetery Kathleen Bruyere, Dies at 76.

Retired Navy Captain Bruyere and five other female sailors helped clear the path for women to serve on ships and aircraft engaged in combat — assignments previously barred to them under the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948.

Kathleen Bruyere in the cover of Time magazine in the Jan. 5, 1976, issue

Bruyere was also an original volunteer staff members at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego. Highly respected by all associated with the cemetery, she was a friend and ally of the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation.

In 2019, Veteran Documentary Corps had the opportunity to interview Bruyere at the Miramar National Cemetery for our Cemetery Profile series.

In this series, through Field Notes, profiles and short films on veterans, we captured the story of Miramar National Cemetery and the work of volunteers like Bruyere. Located near Scripps Ranch, a neighborhood in northern San Diego,  Miramar National Cemetery had served as an Army training, mobilization, and air squadron groups in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam War before becoming a National Cemetery in 2008. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and shipmates.

Sources: ; ;

Travis Weger’s #22forvets

As part of National Suicide Prevention Month this September, Veteran Documentary Corps interviewed Travis Weger, filmmaker and veteran working to highlight suicide, homelessness, success stories, recovery and mental health in the veteran community.

Q: What’s your name and background? What connection do you have to the veteran experience, particularly problems of mental health and suicide in veterans?

My name is Travis Weger, I am a filmmaker based out of Denver, Colorado, and am currently living overseas in Naples, Italy. My focus is documentary-style narratives, I tell stories of everyday people. Part of my emphasis is on veterans’ issues and stories within the community.

My passion for serving veterans started when I joined the Navy almost two decades ago. My father was in the U.S. Army, he always spoke fondly of his time in the service. That sparked something in me, a feeling of service and wanting to give back to the world around me.

While going to film school, I had the opportunity join the Navy in my early 20s. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something completely different, to serve the country in a way that I had never thought possible.

When I joined, my recruiter told me about his career as a deckhand, which the Navy called an undesignated seaman. This was something that I never pictured myself doing, but remember my father explaining the service is a unique opportunity to do something different, so as a film student, I joined the Navy to be an undesignated seaman.

“I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something completely different, to serve the country in a way that I had never thought possible.”

Travis Weger’s career across nearly two decades, from undesignated seaman, to Chief Boatswain’s Mate to Naval Officer. 

As my career progressed in the Navy, I moved from being an undesignated seaman on ships to working in Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, which is more like the Army or Marines. I also knew I wanted to finish college, so after several years I transferred to the Navy Reserve.

While in college, I found that there was a gap in support for veterans. A handful of us from various military backgrounds worked with the faculty and several other organizations on campus and we started the first Student Veterans Organization at the University of San Diego. We focused on fostering an inclusive environment where student veterans would be able to interact with students, faculty and allies on campus, while promoting veterans issues across the community.

After college, I began working at a couple PR and advertising agencies working on several global and national brands. While I enjoyed my career as an ad-man, I missed the fulfillment of public service.

My reserve career continued to grow and so did my career in advertising, which were completely different career fields. After being mobilized back to active duty, I knew it was time to move back to public service, so I started a position at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“While I enjoyed my career as an ad-man, I missed the fulfillment of public service.”

While working with the VA, my focus began to shift to mental health and the issues surrounding the veteran community. I began working with therapists at the VA on several campaigns focusing on veterans’ issues. We focused on campaigns highlighting suicide, homelessness, success stories, recovery and mental health. In my personal life, I had friends that were also struggling with mental health and I wanted to do what I could to help. Thinking about how I could make a difference, I landed on what I could do best, to use my skills in filmmaking to help highlight an issue that was deeply important to me and to the veteran community.

Q: Can you share with us more about the statistics of suicide in veterans?

The suicide rate for veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults according to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report published by the Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The study also shows that veterans suicide rates are increasing by 6.1% since the turn of the millennium. The social media campaign for #22ForVets focuses on raising awareness to this issue and reducing the stigma of seeking treatment for mental health. If we can help save one life, we are making a positive change in the world.

#22forvets campaign

Q: How can individuals prevent suicide in veterans? What can we do as a society?

While creating the video #22ForVets, I wanted to show that we are all the same no matter our background. We all have people that we love or people that love us and we all have something we believe in. We are constantly bombarded with news and numbers of deaths around the world, to the point that we become numb to it. My mission was to focus on the fact that these are more than numbers, these are people, just like you and me.

The question is, what can we do to help? Something as small as a phone call can help someone realize that they are not alone. When you talk to someone that is hurting, just listen. As a society, we must continue to address the stigma surrounding mental health and proactively remove guilt, shame or resistance that stands in the way to seeking care.

#22forvets campaign

“As a society, we must continue to address the stigma surrounding mental health and proactively remove guilt, shame or resistance that stands in the way to seeking care.”

Q: Where are you taking this project, #22forvets? What do you hope to accomplish? Who are you reaching out to?

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I wanted to create this video, not just to raise awareness for the month, but to let people know there is an issue and to help raise awareness. Even if one person knows someone in this world is thinking about them, maybe that can help save a life.

The audience for this video is specifically to the person that may have never known that veterans’ suicide was an issue, or that feels as if they cannot help. I want that person to realize that they can help, we are all the same. Those that are hurting are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, uncles, aunts and cousins.

These are people, just like you.

WATCH Travis Weger’s #22forvets social media campaign on his YouTube Channel.

#22forvets campaign

If you would like to know more about Travis Weger and his projects, please support and check out his website at

Ralph Parr: Fighter Ace of the Twentieth Century–VDC’S New Legacy Short

The Veteran Documentary Corps team has a handful of short films to release in 2020. In our new release is short film, Ralph Parr: Fighter Ace of the Twentieth Century, features interviews from Ralph Parr’s author, Ken Murray; his step-daughter Linda Capps; and his step-son Paul McLaughlin.

Ralph Parr: Fighter Ace of the Twentieth Century is the story of Korean War, WWII, Vietnam War Fighter Pilot.

As we announce our new Legacy short film, a series of Field Notes focusing on Ralph Parr and Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery (his final resting place) will be released through the week. This is accompanying material to the film.

Ralph Parr: Fighter Ace of the Twentieth Century will participate in festivals worldwide.

Catalyst of Change – Jan Millsapps appointed Mentor by United Nations Outer Space Affairs

SF State Professor Emeritus of Cinema and Veteran Documentary Corps collaborator Jan Millsapps has been selected as one of 34 women from around the world named as mentors by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The mentoring network is part of a newly launched Space4Women online platform promoting gender equality and gender empowerment in space sectors worldwide.


UNOOSA mentors work individually and collectively to create opportunities worldwide for girls and women, to promote inclusive STEM/STEAM education, to support and encourage girls and women preparing for careers in the space sector, to advocate for female representation in space organizations worldwide, and to promote space organizations that are diverse and free of bias.

Millsapps began working with the United Nations in 2017, when she was invited to participate in initial Space4Women planning sessions at U.N. headquarters in New York. Her continuing networking with others she met there introduced the need for global role models and initiated discussions that helped envision and encourage the establishment of a formal Space4Women platform.

“I’ve kept in touch with the amazing women I met at the U.N.,” Millsapps says. “I’m so pleased that the informal support we’ve provided each other is now formalized and available to anyone in the world.”

A veteran filmmaker and accomplished writer, Millsapps’ creative work and professional activities demonstrate an ongoing commitment to finding and telling women’s stories, especially those related to science and technology, and in improving the status of women individually and globally. Her documentary, Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond, has been shown internationally, including its 2018 premiere at UNOOSA headquarters in Vienna. Last year the film was awarded first prize for a professional documentary at the Raw Science Film Festival in Los Angeles and was screened locally at the California Film Institute’s Doclands festival.


“One of our goals at Veteran Documentary Corps (VDC) is that our films and filmmakers find ways to effect positive changes in the world,” says Daniel Bernardi, VDC and El Dorado Films Director and President of El Dorado Films. “Jan’s film ‘Madame Mars’ is a great example of how a project can not only succeed as a film, but can also serve as a catalyst for change.” 

Millsapps has spoken about the need for diversity in space exploration at several Mars Society Conventions and at “SETI Talks.” Recently she was appointed as a “citizen diplomat” for the U.S. State Department’s American Film Showcase.


She lives in San Rafael, CA, with her husband, music and media producer Phill Sawyer. To get in touch with a mentor or to find out more about UNOOSA’s mentoring network, email

Pam Roark: Iraq War Nurse– VDC’S new Legacy Short Film

In partnership with the National Cemetery Administration, the VDC team has a handful of short films to release in 2020.

In our new release is short film, Pam Roark: Iraq War Nurse , featuring Captain Pamela Roark who served as a nurse in the Iraq War.

Pam Ad Diwaniyah Iraq.jpg

Pam Roark: Iraq War Nurse is a short documentary about Captain Pam Roark – a Navy nurse whose life-long passion and commitment resulted in an exciting story of female military leadership. In Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, Captain Roark speaks about her training and her biggest inspiration, Admiral Duerk.

Pam Roark: Iraq War Nurse will participate in festivals worldwide. Next month, the short documentary  will participate in Hot Springs International Women’s Festival. Watch the trailer:

Alene B. Duerk: The First Woman Admiral – VDC’S new Legacy Short Film

In partnership with the National Cemetery Administration, the VDC team has a handful of short films to release in 2020.

This February, our new release is short Legacy film, Alene B. Duerk: The First Woman Admiral. Featuring Duerk’s friend Pamela Roark and nephew Stephen Granzow, this new documentary, directed by Eliciana Nascimento and written and produced Daniel Bernardi, is a remarkable story of women leadership and legacy.


Alene B. Duerk: The First Woman Admiral is a short documentary that tells the story of how Alene Duerk overcame gender stereotypes in the military to accomplish the highest rank ever achieved by a woman in the history of the US Navy.

Having heard of her promotion to Rear Admiral on the radio in her car, a toll booth operator was the first person Duerk spoke to about it. From that time on, Duerk was not only an admiral, she was a spokeswoman for all the women in the Navy. Admiral Duerk frequently made appearances and statements in support of her Navy women, fighting for increases in pay, better conditions and recruiting nurses.

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Alene B. Duerk: The First Woman Admiral will participate in festivals worldwide. Watch the trailer:

Frank Maselskis: From WWII POW to Chosin Reservoir Survivor – VDC’S new Legacy Short

In partnership with the National Cemetery Administration, the VDC team has a handful of short films to release in 2020.

This month, we feature the powerful and compelling story of Frank Maselskis– A POW in World War II and survivor of the Korean War battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Our film, Frank Maselskis: From WWII POW to Chosin Reservoir Survivor, is directed and photographed by Andrés Gallegos, Written and Produced by Daniel Bernardi, and distributed by El Dorado Films.


This short film tells the story of Frank Maselskis who was a prisoner of war in World War II. Despite the horrible experiences of being a prisoner Frank decides to join in the Korean War, where he participates in the battle of Chosin, a brutal combat that took place in the most extreme weather conditions. After those experiences in the war Frank fights to live a normal life. Shot in Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

VDC communications coordinator and editor, Diana Sánchez asked Andrés three questions about his film.

Diana: What is the most impactful / significant feature of Maselskis as a civilian and as a marine? Professor Trevor Getz mentions resilience.

Andrés: Definitely his resilience, we need to consider that he was a prisoner of war in WW2 and then enlisted to participate in the Korean War, two very traumatic moments for any soldier. I think that after those two events, the fact of continuing as a civilian requires great mental strength.


D: Considering his childhood, what do you think Maselskis ’experience was as a prisoner of war?
A: His relationship with his family was not the best. I think that having been a prisoner of war in World War II and being at the “hellships”, is a very traumatic experience for anyone, where you need your loved ones or family the most.


D: Tells us about the animation. How does it fit with the theme of trauma?

A: Together with Jian Giannini, we look at several references of Painting and illustration to look for the appropriate aesthetic that would reflect Frank’s experience, so we use a black and white image, with a simple stroke and with a texture that represents the harshness of war.


Frank Maselskis: From WWII POW to Chosin Reservoir Survivor will participate in festivals worldwide. Watch the trailer: