By Mickie McLeod, CBS 62/CW50 Intern
Pierette Domenica Simpson of Novi, MI was just nine years old when she survived the sinking of the Italian luxury liner, The Andrea Doria, on June 25th, 1956. Telling the story of that night has become a passion for her. She has written two books and a screenplay about surviving the deadly shipwreck while immigrating to America.
Andrea Doria: Are the Passengers Saved? is the film she produced 60 years later about the disaster. It will be featured at the first Royal Starr International Film Festival at the Emagine Theatre in Downtown Royal on October 14th at 5:00PM.
“When I found out that our society, in general, had been blaming Captain Calamai and his crew, I was enraged. I said to myself, how could this be?” Simpson explains about the controversy.
Simpson tells the story because she wanted to present new facts about the most controversial sea disaster. Her findings correct a historical injustice toward all Italians, especially Captain Calamai of The Andrea Doria, who became the scapegoat for the tragedy.
Simpson wrote, produced and stars in the film, playing herself. Because she arrived in Detroit with her grandparents, Simpson says she felt it was natural to shoot the docufilm locally so many scenes were filmed in Ferndale and Dearborn.
In the film, Simpson shares her experience of the immigration and the nightmare on the Atlantic that has been referred to as the “Titanic of the 1950’s.” The film also features local talent including a special appearance by opera singer and Macomb resident Eva Evola, as well as author and TV show host Elizabeth Atkins and Nick Canzano of Livonia who had composed and performed a guitar piece specifically for the film.
This film was debuted at a private screening in Genoa, Italy at the Museum of the Sea this past summer for the 60th anniversary of the disaster and was recently shown at The Detroit Film Theatre. It was also featured in an “Eye on Detroit” segment produced by reporter Lisa Germani and shot by CBS 62 Chief Videographer Paul Pytlowany.
You can see the screening and participate in a Q&A with Pierette Simpson at the Royal Starr International Film Festival Friday, October 14 at 5:00PM, located at the Emagine Theatre in Downtown Royal Oak. The Festival takes place October 13-16, 2016. Local, national, and international screen shorts, features, and documentary films will be presented and eligible for juried awards and prizes. In addition, there’s a category for High School Students with a top award of a trip for two to Los Angeles for a red carpet tour of Paramount Studios.
Tickets are now on sale.
Get more information about Pierette Simpson.
Mickie McLeod is a Livonia, MI native. She’s majoring in Communication Studies at Wayne State University and is a CBS 62/CW50 Intern.