Filmmaker Damien Lay goes in search of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
Award winning documentary filmmaker Damien Lay is set to start shooting his first feature film, The Lost Anzac, off the coast of Myanmar on February 18. This feature film, shot entirely on 35mm film, dramatises the life of one of Australias greatest heroes and one of the worlds most renowned aviators, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who reportedly went down over the Bay of Bengal in 1935. Set for a theatrical release in 2010, the film will coincide with the 75th anniversary of his disappearance, and features dramatic re-enactments of key events that took place in this area.
Shooting on location, Lay will also be simultaneously leading a full scale search expedition for the missing plane and its two pilots, footage of which will be captured for a separate television documentary special called Final Flight of the Cross. Utilising pre-existing research from renowned historian Ted Wixted, who led his own expedition in 1983, Lay is hot on the trail of solving the mystery of Kingsford Smiths disappearance and putting to rest one of the longest standing aviation search and recovery missions. The Joint Myanmar Australian Lady Southern Cross Search Expedition costing in excess of 1 million dollars is well equipped and well resourced in its efforts to solve this great mystery.
This expedition is also of special significance, as Lay has received unprecedented cooperation from the government of Myanmar in planning the Joint Myanmar Australian Lady Southern Cross Search Expedition, the largest foreign expedition approved by the Government of the Union of Myanmar. This also represents the first time a foreign film crew has been granted such permission by the government of Myanmar, who not only have allowed Lay access to the crash zone to film, using locals for cast and crew, but has also given permission for a first ever broadcast from Myanmar, enabling Lay to communicate live with Australian media as the expedition unfolds.
As Damien Lays first theatrical release, The Lost Anzac will make use of dramatised factual story telling to create a unique insight into one of the worlds most revered historical figures. The title refers to Kingsford Smiths time as an infantry soldier and pilot during WWI, and follows his indomitable ANZAC spirit as he goes on to achieve a record number of firsts as a pioneer of aviation. The film details the events leading up to and following his disappearance in November 1935 over the Bay of Bengal, as he and his co-pilot Tommy Pethybridge were attempting to break the speed record from England to Australia in their plane Lady Southern Cross. Their bodies and the plane were never found, and the circumstances surrounding the disappearance were never brought to light. The story remains one of the worlds greatest aviation mysteries yet to be solved, and due to this, controversy still surrounds the legacy of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
Damien Lay is renowned for his pursuit of historical intangibilities. His award winning documentary Hes Coming South (2006) documented his search for the missing Japanese midget submarine in Sydney Harbour, which laid to rest a mystery that endured for over 60 years. In 2007 his award winning documentary The Battle of Long Tan was credited with altering pubic opinion on, and reinstating honour to the Australian Vietnam Veterans.
This expedition is fully funded by Damien Lay and his film company Animax Films. For the last five years he has worked closely with the family of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith including the only direct living descendent, his son Charles Arthur Kingsford Smith. Lay also has complete access to the work of the late historian Ted Wixted, whose unpublished research Lay considers is the treasure map to unlocking this mystery.
The unraveling of the mystery of Kingsford Smiths disappearance has also garnered incredible support from both the Smithsonian Institute in the United States, as well as one of the worlds leading aviation museums, the Louis A. Turpen Museum situated at the San Francisco airport, the site from which Kingsford Smith departed on his first successful crossing of the Pacific.
This search and recovery expedition and subsequent documenting as both a theatrical feature film and television documentary special, is history in the making. Filmmaker Damien Lay has the credentials, drive and support to bring to light the complete story of one of Australias greatest heroes. A journey that we can be a part of as it happens.