Pat Sajak, Vietnam Vet, Hosts ‘Sundance for Troops’: D.C.

GI Film Festival Reception
"Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak, and his wife, Lesly Sajak. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

“Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was the special guest last night for the annual GI Film Festival, which showcases films and documentaries about war and the U.S. military.

“No popcorn and Milk Duds?” Sajak teased before moderating a brief Q&A with some of the directors and producers, such as Alyssa Buchanan, 23. She presented her short film “Those Forgotten” about two survivors of a war shipwreck.

It was day three of the festival at the Canadian Embassy, dubbed “International Warrior Night,” with seven short films being screened. Brandon Millett, who started the “Sundance for troops” in 2006 with his wife, Laura Law-Millett, said this year’s lineup includes foreign films, action films and even an animated comedy called “The Jockstrap Raiders.”

Buchanan said she was impressed with her fellow filmmakers, because “you never get enough money, but we’re very resourceful. You can shoot something in your backyard and make it look like World War II.”

After the screening, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer welcomed guests to a cocktail reception where he touted his nation’s oil resources. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the American Petroleum Institute were the evening’s sponsors.

Janet Annesley, vice president of communications for CAPP, said she’d like to get the festival to Ottawa.

Neeson, Rihanna

Canadian defense attache Rear-Admiral Richard Greenwood presented Sajak with a bottle of wine, but Sajak joked that with all the petroleum people present, he was hoping for a “fill-up.”

Tonight, about 40 wounded soldiers will get an advanced screening of “Battleship,” starring Liam Neeson and Rihanna, and this weekend the GI Film Festival will present “Army Wives” cast members Sally Pressman and Brian McNamara with their GI Family Award for their portrayal of military family life on the Lifetime drama series.

Millett said the festival is looking to expand its presence this year by hosting “micro events” around the country and introducing a show on the Pentagon Channel featuring films from festivals past.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include: Jason Harper on autos, Jeremy Gerard on theater, Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

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