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 space4women@un.org

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.

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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:



YouTube World Premiere: John Henry Balch

We announce the YouTube World Premiere of NCA Legacy film, “John Henry Balch.”

John Henry Blach was aa World War I Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.  In this short documentary directed by Sreang “C” Hok tells the story of  Navy Pharmacist Mate, John Henry Balch, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, during the Battle of Belleau woods and other WWI campaigns. 

We feature Trevor Getz, Professor of History at San Francisco State and Jennifer Keene, Porfessor of History at Chapman University.

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This film was made with the support of The Veterans Legacy Program of National Cemetery Administration (NCA) U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

#LegacyFilms #Balch #VDCPremiere #LCAatSFSU


Nurse Helen Fairchild in Texas: filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento and Christine Hallet

Last Saturday September 21st, filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento and Christine Hallet (University of Huddersfield, UK) interacted in a session on the significance of filmmaking as a form of public history, including a presentation of the film, Nurse Helen Fairchild.


About the Film: Bravery, compassion and the will to save lives motivated the young Nurse Helen Fairchild to leave home in Pennsylvania and embark on a journey to Europe, where she served as a surgical nurse during the World War I. She died close to the frontlines where she worked in a Hospital Clearing Station. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Eliciana Nascimento (Arizona State University) and produced by Daniel Bernardi of the Veteran Documentary Corps at San Francisco State University, this short documentary recounts Nurse Fairchild’s fascinating story and the quest by her niece, Nelle Rote, for Fairchild’s recognition as a war hero.

Eliciana Nascimento is an award-winning filmmaker and an assistant professor (tenure track) in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University. Her short film, “The Summer of Gods,” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 and received several awards from a variety of international film festivals. She directed and edited the short documentary “Nurse Helen Fairchild,” and is currently in the making of two other documentary films.

We thank scholar Christine Hallet for hosting an inspiring conversation about our short film.


“Professor Christine Hallett trained as a nurse and health visitor in the 1980s and holds first degrees and PhDs in both Nursing and History. She is a co-editor for the academic book series, Nursing History and Humanities. ” – http://www.research.manchester.ac.uk

Professor Christine Hallett works at the University of Huddersfield, in the North of England

Here is a short profile VDC produced on Christine Hallet.

This film was made with the support of the National Cemetery Administration’s Legacy Program, an educational outreach initiative. Their mission is to memorialize our nation’s Veterans through sharing their stories of service and sacrifice.

“Madame Mars” successful screening tour

Jan Millsapps just completed a successful “Madame Mars” tour, with multiple screenings at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. on July 17, 18 and 19, and another at the New York Academy of Sciences on July 25.

In the U.K., Millsapps presented her documentary, “Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond,” at the University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy, where the screening was followed by a reading from her novel “Venus on Mars” and a panel discussion among Millsapps, Chiara Palla of Imperial College and Women in Aerospace U.K., Rakhi Rajani of Quantum Black, and host Ghina Halabi of the University of Cambridge. She also presented the film and read from her novel at Wolfson College and at the University of Cambridge Postdoc Center.

In New York, she presented her film at the Global STEM Alliance Summit to an audience primarily composed of STEM students and mentors from all over the world.

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Here are a two exceprts of Millsapps and Halabi during Q&A after film screening at the University of Cambridge: Institute of Astronomy on our VDC Facebook Page.

Vist El Dorado Films for more information and films!

Noble Sissle’s Syncopated Ragtime: Festival Run & Awards

Combining unseen period footage with original scores from that era, Syncopated Ragtime tells the story of Noble Sissle incredible life journey that spans “The Harlem Hellfighters” of World War I, Broadway Theatre, the Civil Rights movement, and decades of Black cultural production. The film inquires on the Black people’s struggle for democracy by challenging America’s social, economic and political structures.

Noble Sissle’s Syncopated Ragtime is having a successful festival presence. Directed by Daniel Leonard Bernardi and David De Rozas, Syncopated Ragtime has been awarded Best Short Documentary Film. 8th American Documentary Film Festival, Palm Springs, CA.

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Noble Sissle’s Syncopated Ragtime has been the Official Selection of the following U.S. festivals.

Forthcoming screenings in U.S. Festivals include:

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Forthcoming screenings in International Festivals include:

General Public screenings include:

  • World War I Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri, April 2019
  • Imperial Implosions: World War I and its Global Implications: California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA, November, 2018; Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, October 2018; Christchurch, New Zealand, October 2018


Noble Lee Sissle, Jr.
Trevor Getz , Professor Of History At San Francisco State University

All Songs By Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake And Jim Europe’s 369th Infantry “Hellfighters” Band

Directed by Daniel Leonard Bernardi and David De Rozas
Executive Producer, Daniel Leonard Bernardi
Producers, Trevor Getz And Carolina Gratianne
Editor And Sound Design, David De Rozas
Director Of Photography, Andrés Gallegos
Additional Camera, Alexander Zane Irwin
Sound Recordist, Sreang Hok
Production Assistant, Jesse Collier Sutterley
Camera Assistant, Suhnny Stone Carter Bernardi
Post-production Supervisor, Sreang Hok
Colorist, Andrés Gallegos
Sound Mix, Dan Olmsted
Consultants Jonathan R. Casey and Craig Perrier

The American War: Screenings in Ha Noi and Da Nang, Vietnam (Part 2)

On June 8th and 15th, Director Daniel Bernardi, Producer Trang Tran, and Sound Recordist and Designer Warren Haack screened their documentary The American War in Ha Noi and Da Nang, Vietnam. Shot in Vietnam in 2016, this documentary tells the story of the Vietnam War from the point of view of six Vietcong veterans, explaining why they fought and how they live with their battlefield scars. “Our return is to fulfill a promise I made to all the subjects in the film and the crew.  It is not easy to screen a film in front of people featured in it; you don’t want to fail them, especially when you represent the country that, as war always goes, caused them so much pain,” said Bernardi.

The screenings attracted a diverse group of thinkers, filmmakers, students, scholars, and activists. Especially in Da Nang, all of the Vietcong veterans in the film were present with their families.

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Attendees of The American War screening in Da Nang, June 15, 2019



Thank you so much for making such a thoughtful and meaningful film about the war Vietnamese people had to go through. I thank you for incorporating all the six subjects to reflect a compilation of what the war has done to us. I respect the artistic approach and I love how you chose the music. I thank you for going out of your way to collect all these precious archival footage which tell our stories so truthfully and vividly. The war was horrible. I myself lived through the Tet offensive, and how you depicted the brutality of it pulled me to the edge of my seat. But then watching this film, I saw the hope shined through the horrible violence, suffering, and loss. The image of apricot flowers ready to blossom was a fitting choice to show such hope,” expressed an attendee of the screening in Da Nang. 


The Q&A was especially meaningful with audience members asking many tough but insightful questions. Below are some questions and responses leading the conversation between audience and the crew. This is Part 2. 


The war was a long time ago. Can you tell us how you were able to tease out these thoughts and feelings from the veterans given the short period time you spent in Vietnam?

Bernardi: Unlike fiction filmmaking in which everything is planned out, in our work, the process is to discover. The trust, therefore, is important. Also, these people are so different, their stories and views, and the ways they shared were all different. Like with Mai [the guerilla], a truly courageous woman, it wasn’t easy for me to talk to her. She was so intense that after interviewing her, I got really sick and couldn’t work for the rest of that day. The trick, though, is to build trust. I asked the subjects the same questions three or four times in different settings. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe them. Instead, I wanted them to believe me. I wanted to make them comfortable in sharing the stories of their fighting, sacrifices, pain, and forgiveness.

Haack: In a way, documentary is harder than narrative films. You go out and think you have an intention but things happen and you have to be honest enough to say that wasn’t what is happening.

Bernardi: People have different interview techniques. For me, I have no notes. If I read the questions to you, you will think you are in an exam. So, I don’t do that. I always shoot with two cameras. Spend three days on each subject, two days for interviewing and one day for b-roll. Flex if you don’t have the second day. For example, Loi [My Lai massacre victim] wasn’t ready to share with me his story at first. It took a lot more for me to get his trust. We spent a day going to his mother’s house where we had a meal with him and developed great conversations. I also let my crew ask questions. Warren is the sound guy, he listens to everything. He knows my rhythm and knows I will forget something. When he asks questions, he adds a great perspective. Or the cinematographer, as he looks close to the subject, he sees when they twist or get sad. In the last two interviews, he asked questions and the subjects cried answering. 

“Unlike fiction filmmaking in which everything is planned out, in our work, the process is to discover.”

What is your message? And how has the movie been received by the audience? 

Bernardi: We are here now, really for the subjects who presented in the film. We promised them we will come back. About the message, my take is they [Vietnamese veterans] think your generation is moving pass this experience too fast. By watching this film, we hope it will slow you down and realize that the beautiful and peaceful country you are living in today – a part of it came from their sacrifice. That resonates with me – an outsider. Our country has been at war for too long and it’s hard to penetrate the young mind. The U.S. dropped more bombs in Vietnam more than it did in WWI & II and Korean War all together; 58 thousand Americans died here, by cancer and suicide back home. In the U.S., the film just came out of festivals and it was shown in a few states. People who are socially conscious thanked us for making this film.

For the American Veterans of the Vietnam War, I’m happy to say, they appreciate it. More than anybody, they are aware of the pain they caused. For the Vietnamese American population who fled the South, half of them hated it. They walked out in the middle of the film. They are not used to seeing the Vietcong represented so thoughtfully. To them, Communists are bad who they lost their country to, so this film is hard for them. For the second generation [of the Vietnamese immigrants], it was the whole different reaction. It was like “nobody ever told me these things” and “no wonder why they fought so hard”. For you, I hope you liked it. Other cultures have a lot to learn from you and I hope you see that. 

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The American War crew members and the children at the Protection Center for Victim of Agent Orange, Da Nang back in January 2017

The American War poster

You asked me about the impacts from the government in this film. I have something to add into that. They didn’t let us interview any person who worked for the South Vietnam. We wanted to do it at the beginning, but then we sat down and thought this is actually a blessing. Let’s respect your government. Let’s not open the wound and let’s tell the Americans why the Vietcong fought. It’s like “You are hurting us. This is our land and get the hell out.” 

You said making the movie is a journey of discovery. What did you discover for yourself which might help you recover from your own horrific experience in Iraq? 

Bernardi: Filmmaking is therapeutic. It saves my mind because the war I experienced was horrible. I could have quit [when I received the order to go to Iraq] but that seemed to lack honor. After my deployment, I had PTSD and still had to be a good dad [smile]. It was hard. Since then, I have made and involved in 40 something short films and I’m in my 3rd feature. Making films about these incredible people helped me to stop thinking about myself. One percent U.S population serves in the military, and less than that serves in combat. I hope my films bring more empathy for the veterans. Up-to-date, I’m glad to see how this process has helped my fellow veterans.

It seems like the U.S hasn’t learned from its mistakes. It’s no longer the case in Vietnam but the U.S army is still intervening in other countries. And it seems that Americans aren’t aware of the consequences of the pain they cause to people in these countries. What impacts do you want to make, if any?

Bernardi: We want our audiences to understand the length of sacrifice people will go through to protect their villages, homes, families and independence. We also want American audiences, but really all viewers, to engage governments and ensure that the only justification for war is a response to an invasion and attack. Countries have a right to defend themselves. They have no right to invade and kill irrespective of their respective political systems.


Following the screening, the subjects took turns to talk about their thoughts. They applauded the work ethics, and the creativity of crew members which “make it [the movie] so truthful, emotional, and compelling”. Vo Cao Loi, who survived the My Lai Massacre and subject in The American War revealed: “It is so great seeing you again. We met back in 2016 when you all came to interview me and other five Vietnamese veterans … but it has been a while and I wasn’t sure when I would see you again. After watching this film for the first time, I think you did a great job of staying with the truth. I’m so pleased to see how the stories were interwoven– from totally different characteristics, missions, and lives of the Vietnamese people during the war against the U.S and making 54 minutes of fascinating storytelling. I thought the use of illustration and animation was such an excellent decision – it didn’t only depict suffering, pain, and loss in another level but also enticed further thoughts about what happened back then. I hope this film will reach more audiences in Vietnam and all over the world so people will have the opportunity to hear the story from our perspectives, why we fought and how we fought.” In light of the impression of the subjects about the film, Bernardi added “I think they [the subjects] were pleasantly surprised by the animation and sound design. I could see they were touched, and that is a compliment that is more meaningful to me than any other!” 

Even though they read and heard about the war their grandparents fought against the U.S in the textbooks and media, young audiences acknowledged The American War was a unique experience. It gave them the chance to relate with their country’s heroes in a personal and meaningful level. 

The American War just finished its festival round. The film has been screened in Indonesia, India, New Zealand, the U.S, and Vietnam. The crew is looking to distribute the film via television in Vietnam and internationally. 

Learn more about The American War, crew members, and Order a copy of our film here. Subscribe El Dorado Films Youtube channel here . For more information, please contact: Daniel Bernardi at daniel.bernardi@eldoradofilms.net and 415.741.7892.