EASTON — The genius of William Wyler, legendary film director who gave the world “Ben-Hur” (1959), “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946) and “Mrs. Miniver” (1942), was on the silver screen once again Thursday evening, Oct. 3, with the opening of the 12th annual Chesapeake Film Festival.
The film was “The Cold Blue” (2019), a documentary created from Wyler footage that was saved in the National Archives and produced by Catherine Wyler, William Wyler’s oldest child.
The film also includes recent interviews with some of the surviving crew members and was directed by Erik Nelson.
Never-before-seen images of young men in the cockpits of the B-17 Flying Fortress Memphis Belle and on the airfields in Europe of World War II revealed the harsh reality of war for young men, most of them teenagers, who had only a 25% chance of surviving a bombing raid.
The newly restored footage and outtakes were shot by Wyler as part of his 1944 documentary “The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.” Wyler died in 1981.
Catherine Wyler was on hand to answer questions and meet film buffs at the opening reception Thursday evening. “The Cold Blue” will be shown again at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Easton Premier Cinemas.
The Avalon Theatre was packed, with every seat taken, for opening night Thursday.
Easton resident Talbot Bone said he and his wife Chris had gotten the schedule and outlined nine movies they wanted to see during the first four days.
He said a lot of patrons were looking forward to enjoying films at the newly renovated Easton Premier Cinemas.
After a short reception, the crowd settled down to take in another film, “The Spy Behind Home Plate” (2019), which is the story of Moe Berg, a Major League Baseball player turned spy.
Berg played for five Major League teams during baseball’s golden age but also led a secret life spying for the OSS, a predecessor of the CIA, during World War II.
Aviva Kempner directed the film and was on hand to greet fans and answer questions.
Kempner is known for her documentaries describing the untold stories of the Jewish experience in America and beyond, including “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg” (1999).
“The Spy Behind Home Plate” will be shown again at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the closing day of the festival, at Easton Premier Cinemas.
The festival features 62 films being shown in various locations every day through Thursday.
Venues include the Avalon Theatre, Talbot County Free Library and Easton Premier Cinemas in Easton; Oxford Community Center in Oxford; Cambridge Premier Cinemas at Dorchester Square and Gallery 447 on Race Street in Cambridge.
Special events included an environmental program reception and shorts program Friday evening with question-and-answer sessions.
A trio of environmental films were free to the public Saturday — “Science Fair” (2018) directed by Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster; “Conowingo Dam: Power on the Susquehanna,” a Maryland Public Television film was followed by an Exelon Corporation panel discussion; and “Saving Sea Turtles: Preventing Extinction,” directed by Michele Gomes and Jennifer Ting.
Sunday, Oct. 6, environmental films will be shown at Gallery 447 in Cambridge and Easton Premier Cinemas.
They include a program of environmental shorts at noon in Cambridge followed by “Tale of the Tongs”at 2 p.m., “Sharkwater: Extinction” at 4 p.m. and “The Human Element” at 7:30 p.m.
In Easton Sunday, environmental shorts begin at 11 a.m., followed by “Jolene” at 12:30 p.m., “The Land” at 2 p.m., “Wild Ponies of Chincoteague” at 4:30 p.m. and “Tigerland” at 7 p.m.
Monday at Easton Premier Cinemas, the theme is “made in Maryland” with a series of Maryland shorts beginning at 2 p.m. and a second Maryland series beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“Of Rails and Sails: The Life and Times of Arthur Curtiss James” will be shown at 3:30 p.m. in Easton, directed by Oxford’s Roger Vaughan. Vaughan will answer questions after the film.
“Lost City of the Monkey God” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Easton.
Tuesday, the venues are Easton Premier Cinemas and Cambridge Premier Cinemas.
In Easton, a series of shorts begin at 1 p.m. with director John Becker, actor Christian R. Gibbs and director Joshua Ziggy Popkin on hand to answer questions.
Also in Easton: “Queen of the Capital” at 3:30 p.m. with director Josh Davidsburg, “#NoJoke” at 5:30 p.m. and “The Cold Blue” at 7:30 p.m.
In Cambridge, the films are “Bedlam” at 5 p.m. with Evelyn Burton, mental health advocate and board member of the Treatment Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C., and “Anthropocene” at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday at Cambridge Premier Cinemas, a program of shorts will begin at noon.
Wednesday films at Easton Premier Cinemass include “The Lonesome Trail” (2019) directed by Arlette Thomas-Fletcher.
“The Endless War,” the special premiere showing of the 2019 film by Talbot County’s Lehr Jackson, will begin at 2:30 p.m.
“Light from Light” (2019), directed by Paul Harrill and imported from the Sundance Film Festival, will begin at 5 p.m.
Wednesday, the festival is combining efforts with the Oxford Community Center and Candle Light Cove, presenting a full-day’s lineup, “Art to Remember,” that addresses mental health and dementia awareness.
At Easton Premier Cinemas, the mental health and dementia series is capped with “Iris” (2001), starring Judy Dench and Kate Winslet, beginning at 7:15 p.m.
Thursday is closing day for the festival with some special showings beginning at 1 p.m. at Easton Premier Cinemas.
They include “The Bonobo Connection” (2012) with director Irene Magafan, “Sharkwater: Extinction” and “The Spy Behind Home Plate.”
The festival’s final film will be a returning favorite — “Swing Away” (2016), followed by a question-and-answer session with filmmakers George Stephanopoulos and Stamatios Tom Hiotis.
For information visit chesa peakefilmfestival.com.