FSU College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Program to present iconic World War II documentary

Event to Recognize Veterans Day and the 75th Anniversary of World War II 

Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Program will present the newly restored high-definition 4k version of “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress,” as well as a special presentation in celebration of Veterans Day and the 75th anniversary of World War II.

The famed 1944 World War II documentary by renowned Hollywood filmmaker William Wyler takes audiences aboard the final mission of the U.S. Army Air Force’s first heavy bomber to fly 25 sorties over Europe during World War II. Through the eyes of its crew, the documentary highlights the courage of the soldiers who manned this enormous aircraft and the treacherous missions they carried out.

“This year, we will celebrate a legendary veteran filmmaker along with honoring Veterans Day through the art and power of cinema,” said Paul Cohen, executive director of the CMPA Torchlight Program. “Seventy-five years after director William Wyler first created his visionary documentary, we will present the newly restored, high-definition 4K version along with ‘A Movie You Haven’t Seen,’ which contains never-before-seen footage originally shot for the ‘Memphis Belle.’”

The screening, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. A prescreening reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Westcott Plaza.

Wyler, best known for films such as “Ben-Hur,” “The Best Years of Our Lives” and “Mrs. Miniver” — all of which won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture — served as a major in the U.S. Air Force, working as a motion picture director in the Armed Forces from 1942-1945 during the height of his studio career.

At the time, New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther said Wyler’s film was “a thorough and vivid comprehension of what a daylight bombing is actually like for the young men who wing our heavy bombers from English bases into the heart of Germany.” More recently, director Steven Spielberg said the work was “one of the most stunning things I have ever seen.”

Now, the historic documentary has been restored to 4K through funding provided by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s production company, Vulcan Productions.

“The Film School is proud to collaborate with the Student Veterans Center each year to bring Tallahassee a compelling film focused on honoring our veterans,” said Reb Braddock, dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts. “We comb through the country’s most prestigious film festivals to find powerful and unique films that will both entertain and educate our students and community.”

Following “The Memphis Belle,” CMPA Torchlight Program will screen a special presentation of “A Movie You Haven’t Seen”, related to the World War II theme of the night provided by the film’s producers in support of the Veterans Day presentation.

William Wyler’s daughter Catherine Wyler, who produced the 1990 feature film “Memphis Belle,” will attend the screening and take part in a question-and-answer session with the audience about both films.

The event, previously known as the Veterans Film Festival, is in its eighth year of existence and was originally created to bring awareness of veterans’ issues among the campus and local community. This year’s screening is being presented by the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts Torchlight Program in association with the Veterans Student Union.

Each of the event’s first seven films has been nominated for numerous awards, including Academy Awards. The previous marquee films were “Hell and Back Again” (2011); “The Invisible War” (2012); “Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” (2013), “Last Days in Vietnam” (2014), “The Hornet’s Nest” (2015), “Citizen Soldier” (2016) and “Apache Warrior” (2017).