On Christmas Eve of 1944, a devastating WWII troopship tragedy struck on the English Channel—a disaster that Americans back home would never hear of. A German U boat torpedoed and sunk the S.S. Leopoldville, killing over 800 men. Survivors were forbidden from speaking of the event.
Months later, one of the survivors would find—through rather unconventional means—a small French portrait. For 73 years, he buried both secrets—the art theft, and the military tragedy. His wartime experiences would remain untold, that is, until his daughter decided to share his story.
Director of the television graduate program, and assistant professor Garland Waller, set out to retrace her father’s past and join him on a monumental return to France and England. With only an iPad, an iPhone, and blind faith in a great story, she produced the award-winning documentary film, The Silent Solider and the Portrait.
“In the process of shooting and producing our documentary, I learned more about my father, the terror of almost dying that night in the English Channel, and the guilt he carried for the theft,” says Waller. “Before the 2018 trip to France ended, he was able to return the portrait to the warm and gracious family who still owned the French estate.”
The documentary, which has been selected for the 2019 Top Indie Film Awards and the Accolade Global Film Competition, will be screened at COM on Dec 7th—the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
The public screening will count as Cinematheque credit.