Film festival to host 'Heroes' gala in August

The Chesapeake Film Festival will honor filmmakers Catherine Wyler, Aviva Kempner, and Easton’s Holly and Paul Fine, along with community heroes, at its fundraising gala Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Talbot Country Club.

EASTON — The Chesapeake Film Festival will host its “Heroes” fundraising gala Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Talbot Country Club.

Four filmmakers will be honored at the event — Catherine Wyler, Aviva Kempner, and Easton’s Holly and Paul Fine. The gala also will honor the heroes of their films in the Chesapeake Film Festival (Oct. 3 to 10) and heroes in the community. (Community heroes will be announced soon.)

Wyler, daughter of the director William Wyler, pays tribute to her father and the airmen of World War II in “The Cold Blue.” The film, directed by Erik Nelson, is constructed from digitally enhanced footage captured by William Wyler and his cameramen on the B-17 bomber, the Memphis Belle, during missions over Germany in 1943.

The documentary succeeds “Memphis Belle,” a feature film Catherine Wyler produced for Warner Bros. in 1990. Her other credits include “Directed by William Wyler” and “Witness to Hope: The Life of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II.”

Catherine Wyler was a senior vice president at Columbia Pictures, director of cultural and children’s programming at PBS, and played a key role at the National Endowment for the Arts in the creation of the Sundance Institute and other media organizations.

Kempner’s 2019 film “The Spy Behind Home Plate” tells the real story of Moe Berg, Major League Baseball player turned spy during World War II. Once again focusing on a little-known Jewish hero, Kempner follows Berg from the streets of Newark to Major League Baseball to his secret life of spying for the OSS during the war.

A child of a Holocaust survivor, Kempner was born in Berlin after the war. Her family history inspired her to produce her first documentary, “Partisans of Vilna,” a story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis. Later films include Peabody Award-winning “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” the first Jewish baseball star in the Major Leagues; “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg” about Gertrude Berg, who received the first Best Actress Emmy in history; and “Rosenwald,” about businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who partnered with Booker T. Washington to build 5,000 schools for African-American communities in the Jim Crow south.

With 40 years of experience, four Peabody Awards, over 80 Emmys Awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Holly and Paul Fine are among the most respected producers/directors of TV documentaries. The Easton couple had a long and illustrious career with “60 Minutes” and a special relationship with newsman Mike Wallace.

The Fines will share stories about Wallace following the festival screening of a documentary about him that premiered this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

In addition to their work with “60 Minutes,” the Fines produced many TV specials for CBS, including “In the Killing Fields of America,” and specials for “20/20” and “Nightline” at ABC. Their son, Sean, and his wife Andrea earned two Academy Award nominations and one Oscar for their documentary “Inocente.”

The gala will feature a three-course meal with a signature dessert by celebrity chef Steve Konopelski of Turnbridge Point.

To request an invitation, go to chesa and click on “Send a CFF Gala Invitation.”

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