SF State Wins Second Contract from U.S. Veterans Affairs to Make Documentaries, Develop Curriculum

Monday, April 23, 2018
Photo of tombstones at the San Francisco National Cemetery

For the second consecutive year, SF State’s Veteran Documentary Corps organization has won a federal contract to produce films and create curricula for the Veterans Legacy Program. The films will explore the brave and diverse contributions of American veterans.

The $330,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration will fund six World War I documentaries, a comprehensive lesson plan for a 10th grade curriculum and a media campaign. The documentaries will be released in late 2018, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The project is headlined by a feature-length documentary on World War I, told from the perspectives of soldiers, sailors and marines and their experiences with trench warfare, the Lost Battalion, the Harlem Hellfighters, Sacred Twenty and more. Cinema Professor Daniel Bernardi, Veteran Documentary Corps executive director, and Carolina Gratianne, Veteran Documentary Corps production manager, will direct. History Professor and Chair Trevor Getz and Bernardi will produce the feature.

Each of the five shorts will focus on a different World War I veteran interred at a national cemetery.

“We are committed to memorializing our nation’s veterans and ensuring their names are never forgotten,” said Randy Reeves, under secretary for Memorial Affairs. “We want to inspire future generations by teaching them the stories of service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes. When we remember the veterans of yesterday, we send a message to veterans today: your legacy will never be forgotten.”

Kanopy, a streaming video service for educational institutions and public libraries, will distribute the films. The films will be available for viewing on the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ YouTube channel and also at a public event in SF State during the fall semester.

Bernardi will lead the project. Getz will steward the historical work and lesson plan. Communication Studies Professor Christina Sabee will handle assessment. Getz and Craig Perrier, a curriculum and instruction specialist from Fairfax, Virginia, will work with schools to implement the lesson plan.

Sixteen SF State students in Cinema and History will be hired as producers, writers, directors, researchers, cinematographers, editors, sound recordists and social media producers.

“We are grateful to be able to work with National Cemetery Administration again to educate youth on a vital chapter of U.S. history, while providing San Francisco State students with paid, professional experience,” says Bernardi, a Navy Reserves officer and Iraq War veteran. “We look forward to recognizing the American veterans who not only helped lead the Allies to victory in World War I, but also blazed trails for women, people of color and Jewish Americans in our military.”

In 2017, the National Cemetery Administration awarded three separate contracts to SF State, Black Hills State University and University of Central Florida as the first of its initiatives to engage educators, students and researchers and the general public through its Veterans Legacy Program. As a result of the $309,148 contract with SF State, the Veteran Documentary Corps produced 12 short documentaries and a fourth-grade lesson plan about World War II soldiers interred at San Francisco and Golden Gate national cemeteries.

National Cemetery Administration

The National Cemetery Administration honors veterans and their families with final resting places in national shrines and with lasting tributes that commemorate their service and sacrifice to our Nation. It aims to be the model of excellence for burial and memorials for American veterans and their families.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in the national cemeteries.

Veteran Documentary Corps

Founded in 2011, the Veteran Documentary Corps empowers veterans and filmmakers from around the world to tell true stories about the veteran experience. Its goal is to facilitate greater understanding of the diverse personalities, struggles and successes that define the veteran experience. Stories come from all branches of service, military jobs, campaigns and nations. The Veteran Documentary Corps is a research and service organization in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts.

— Matt Itelson


Photo: The San Francisco National Cemetery. Photo by Frank Schulenburg.

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