By CHARLIE BIER
The National Academy of Arts & Sciences likes the way UL Lafayette filmmaker Charles Richard tells a war story.
The academy has awarded a Louisiana Public Broadcasting film written by Richard a Suncoast Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary.
"Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière" is the first documentary to delve into a World War II air attack and subsequent ground battle that paved the way for the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944. The hour-long film tells the story of paratroopers and glidermen from the 82nd Airborne Division. The soldiers descended onto the French countryside ahead of the amphibious Normandy beach landing of 150,000 Allied soldiers.
The 82nd Airborne's mission was to take control of the German-controlled La Fière bridge over the Merderet River in Normandy, which Allied forces needed so they could forge inland. They secured the bridge after four days of intense fighting.
Richard, co-director of UL Lafayette's Creative Writing Program and a professor of English, collaborated with LPB editors and producers on the film. He wrote a script that accompanied archival footage, interviews with veterans who survived the La Fière battle, and military historians. The interviews were conducted by staff at the National WWII Museum [u7061146.ct.sendgrid.net] in New Orleans.
In addition to studio interviews, Richard said some of the most powerful dialogue was provided by veterans who returned to La Fière. They were filmed against the backdrop of a French countryside dotted with trees, wildflowers and rolls of baled hay. The pastoral scenery stood in stark contrast to the same landscape portrayed during film footage of fierce battle scenes.
"As a team, we thought the sharp distinctions between war-torn Normandy in black and white and tranquil, present-day Normandy in color was a way of connecting this past - which seemed sometimes so remote as to be almost fiction - with the result of the sacrifices made by these brave men," Richard explained.
"Seize and Secure" was broadcast nationally on PBS last year as part of the National WWII Museum's commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Read more about Richard's work on "Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière." View the LPB press release about the Emmy Award for "Seize and Secure."