Working Women: GI Film Festival co-founder Laura Law-Millett
It has all the makings of an independent film festival - but this one is different. It's the GI Film Festival, dedicated to independent films including at least one character in the military.
This is the 6th year for the GI Film Festival, and it's co-founder is Laura Law-Millett, is an army veteran herself.
“I feel like after I got out of the military that it's another way to serve, to make sure the stories are preserved and that the honor and respect that's due our men and women in uniform is kept in film,” she says.
Laura is a West Point graduate who served in the army for 18 years with deployments in Korea, Turkey, Bosnia and more.
Six years ago, she and her husband Brandon started an entertainment company in Alexandria and they were seeing a trend in Hollywood movies.
Every film that was coming out of Hollywood at that time had main characters who were in the military. But they were either drug dealers, rapists, murderers or thieves. It frustrated her because it didn't reflect the people she had served with.
The GI Film Festival has attracted Hollywood A-listers like Gary Sinise and Glenn Close and this year it honored Ross Perot with a lifetime hero award for his support of the troops.
But it's the veteran who came to watch a movie about Vietnam that sticks out in Laura’s mind the most.
“He said this is the first time since the way that I've ever cried, the first time since the war that I felt like someone understood me, and someone got what I went through,” she says.
They show comedies, romances even animated movies, and movie goers get to meet the directors and some of the heroes the movies portray. The festival attracts about 3,000 people during the week. The best of the film festival will air on a weekly show on the Pentagon channel.
Laura hopes her young daughter will one day be proud of this legacy in film.
“It's just an extension of how can I honor the people who serve and protect our country so I want to continue doing that,” she says.