Historical documentary feature, which recalls the courage and sacrifice of a group of villagers during WWII, ‘… As If They Were Angels’, narrated by Primetime Emmy-winner Peter Coyote and written, directed, and produced by Terry Strauss, is being released on February 2, through Random Media.
Set on February 18, 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor and the US entry into World War II, ‘ … As If They Were Angels’ follows a pair of destroyers escorting a supply ship through the treacherous North Atlantic to a base in Newfoundland. A brutal winter storm, combined with an officer’s reluctance to trust his experienced navigator, and newfangled radar, runs two of the ships aground on the cliffs of adjacent coves. More than 200 sailors on the USS Pollux and USS Truxtun lose their lives, but nearly as many are rescued by local miners and fishermen, risking their own lives on the rocks and the raging seas. By the end of 24 hours of grueling rescue effort, at two remote locations, nearly every home has a sailor in the parlor.
Filmmaker Terry Strauss, whose father was one of the survivors, plumbs a trove of photographs, documents, drawings, and interviews to recount a moving story of sacrifice, endurance, and heroism. The film hits an emotional peak with footage from the 1988 reunion between the American survivors and the Newfoundland townspeople of St. Lawrence and Lawn, who saved and cared for them. Peter Coyote narrates this remarkable saga with a blend of tender empathy and palpable amazement.
Shooting began on this project in 1988 and has continued over many years since, with sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, for whom keeping the story alive is part of their legacy. This remains a little-known story of one of the worst non-combat disasters in the history of the Navy, and how the human heart can illuminate our humanity, even in our darkest hours.
‘ … As if They Were Angels’ was the Official Selection at the Mill Valley Film Festival, Heartland International Film Festival, and LAFemme International Film Festival.