A newly restored print of William Wyler’s World War II air-combat documentary The Memphis Belle and Erik Nelson’s new documentary The Cold Blue (created from recently discovered raw footage shot during the filming of Memphis Belle) are to be featured in screenings at the 56th New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, accompanied by interviews with Erik Nelson and Catherine Wyler, the producer of the 1986 American Masters documentary about her father Directed By William Wyler.
“In February of 1943, Major William Wyler went up in a B-17, 16mm camera in hand, on his first combat mission over Bremen with the Ninety-First Bomber Group. On this and the missions that followed, the Hollywood master, then at the height of his career, braved freezing and perilous conditions to get the images he needed, saw his sound man perish on a return trip from a raid over Brest, and refused an order to stop flying combat missions issued by his superiors, worried that he would be taken prisoner in Germany and identified as the Jewish director of Mrs. Miniver. The final result was The Memphis Belle, one of the greatest WWII combat documentaries, and it has now been meticulously and painstakingly restored.”
“Erik Nelson’s new film is built primarily from color 16mm images shot in the spring of 1943 by director William Wyler and his crew on the 8th Air Force bombing raids over Germany and strategic locations in occupied France. Wyler shot over 15 hours of footage on a series of raids with the Ninety-First Bomber Group, from which he crafted his 1943 film The Memphis Belle. From the remaining raw footage, Nelson has crafted an experience of a different kind, filtered through the spoken recollections of nine veterans, among the last survivors of the War in Europe.”