Solana Beach filmmaker to be featured at annual GI Film Festival

The film tells the story of Whisper Tennis (pictured at right with her husband, Adam, and son, Levi).
copyright of Alex Frey and Brady Ferdig, co-directors of the “Echoes of Resilience” documentary short

A local filmmaker is making his debut at the GI Film Festival, which runs from May 15-20 at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, with a 14-minute documentary that has been nominated for a Local Choice Award.

The film, “Echoes of Resilience,” which will run in the festival’s Doc Shorts category, tells the story of Whisper Tennis, whose father killed himself when she was a child. He was a veteran who struggled with his mental health. Upon moving to San Diego when she was 18, Tennis met Adam, who was deployed to Afghanistan before they got married and had a son, Levi. Adam died by suicide following his own mental health struggle upon returning to civilian life.

“She’s a really strong woman who has just been surrounded by darker outcomes her whole life,” said Brady Ferdig, co-director of “Echoes of Resilience” and a Solana Beach resident. “We hope that by showcasing her journey through her struggles and facing the adversity that she has, that others will be able to open their eyes a little bit more to this ongoing problem which is mental health, and not just in the military but everywhere.”

Ferdig added that he hopes the film will save lives by raising awareness for mental health conditions that sometimes precede suicide.

“There’s a stigma with mental health that I think needs to be addressed,” he said. “The goal for this documentary was to make sure we do the best we can to destigmatize mental health, and to make sure that if there’s someone you know who is struggling, don’t wait to reach out.”

“Echoes of Resilience” was co-directed by Ferdig and Alex Frey, who worked with animation artist Alberto Garcia on the film over the last year.

“Echoes of Resilience” will screen on May 19 at 5 p.m. There will be 31 films across six days and 10 showtimes at this year’s festival that focus on the military and veterans, along with panel discussions and other events.

“Whether you’re a military spouse, a new filmmaker or someone who just enjoys going to the movies, our festival has something for everyone,” said Nancy Worlie, chief content and communications officer at KPBS, which organizes the festival. “From military movies told from BIPOC perspectives to untold stories of loss and resilience, the GI Film Festival San Diego has got you covered when it comes to authentic and compelling storytelling.”

Tickets for most individual screenings are $10 each, and $8 for military, veterans or KPBS members. For more information, visit