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Thriller catches president’s eye
An Oscar-contending film produced in Sussex has caught the attention of President Obama.
The documentary-drama, called Shady Lady, tells the story of a US Airforce B-24 aircraft of the same name that crash-landed on the return leg from the world’s longest air bombing mission.
Produced by West Sussex-based Fact Not Fiction Films, the movie prompted the world’s most powerful man to issue a Presidential Citation to the crew of the famous warplane. A Presidential Citation is given to military units which have performed a heroic act.
Tristan Loraine, director of the film, said: “When I found out about the story of Shady Lady, I thought it was fascinating.
“I wrote to the President and let him know that there was an amazing crew here that hadn’t been recognised for what they’d done. We heard back from the US Embassy in Australia who told us they were organising a citation for the crew. ”
Set in 1943, Shady Lady was on the return trip of a 16-hour bombing mission from Darwin, Australia, to oil refineries in Balikpapan, Borneo. It was the longest ever bombing mission of the Second World War.
Shortly before running out of fuel, the plane crash-landed on a remote salt pan in north west Australia. With help from the Aboriginal community she dramatically managed to fly again.
Mr Loraine said: “We filmed a lot in Sussex at Gatwick Aviation Museum.
“We re-enacted the scenes where the crews were being briefed for the mission. Jim Alexander, who is from Sussex, is one of the main actors in the film.
“He’s done EastEnders and Coronation Street amongst other things and played a great part in the film.”
All the film’s extras were from West Sussex and the music score was written especially by the Horsham Symphony Orchestra.
Mr Loraine continued: “I was sitting with my composer and said we have to make this as good as possible, but we’ve got no money.
“So we decided on the Horsham Symphony Orchestra. We sat down with them and told them the story of Shady Lady and they thought it was amazing.
“They went up to London to record in a professional studio. They may have been amateurs but they were amazing.”
The UK premier of the aviation thriller was held on October 12 at the Capitol Theatre in Horsham.
The world premiere, in Boston, USA, welcomed the wives of Shady Lady’s captain and navigator, as well as the sole remaining crew member – 92-year-old Lou Joseph.
The film will be screening in Horsham for a week from November 9.
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