WWII Female Spy Film Wins ADL Award

WWII Female Spy Film Wins ADL Award title=
WWII Female Spy Film Wins ADL Award
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Sarah Megan Thomas playing Virginia Hall (left) and the real-life Virginia Hall (right) [Photo: Liberte film]

By edhat staff

Liberté: A Call to Spy, a film about female spies in WWII, received the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Stand Up Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The film follows real-life women trained and recruited to Churchill's new spy agency, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and their missions to conduct sabotage and build a resistance. One of the spies, Virginia Hall from America, had a wooden leg and gained notoriety for her help to undermine the Nazi regime in France. So much so that Nazi leaders put forth a lot of energy to find the "limping lady."

Dan Meisel, ADL’s Regional Director, praised the film for its dramatic portrayal of women disrupting the Nazi war machine.

"The courageous heroism of soldiers risking their lives to counter the Nazis is not a new story.  It is new, at least for the big screen, that the heroes featured in Liberté are women, and it is certainly worth discussing why it has taken so long for their stories to be celebrated in this way.  What made these women truly remarkable, in addition to the challenges they had to overcome as 'lady spies,' was the strength of their common conviction despite their varied identities and experiences.  The lead characters enter frame in Liberté bound by how the world sees them -- an American foreign servant with a disability, a Muslim pacifist of Indian heritage, and a Romanian Jew fearing deportation.  By the end of the story, their shared commitment to defend the human dignity of others supersedes any limiting labels, and their diversity proves critical to the success of their respective missions," stated Meisel. 

Linus Roache, Sarah Megan Thomas, and Lydia Dean Pilcher [Photo: Liberte film]

A jury of local ADL staff and supporters annually present the ADL Stand Up Award to a film in the festival that exemplifies the impact storytelling can have in fostering mutual understanding and respect, consistent with ADL’s mission “to secure justice and fair treatment for all.” 

"Given the recent and deeply troubling trend of rising hate and violence directed towards religious, racial, and ethnic minorities in the U.S. and around the world, ADL is proud to stand up with these filmmakers in highlighting the real-life heroism of standing up to fear-based aggression towards others solely on account of who they are," stated Meisel.

Liberté: A Call to Spy is directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher, and stars Sarah Megan Thomas (“Equity”), who also wrote the screenplay and produced, Stana Katic (“Castle”), and Radhika Apte (“Andhadhun”).  More info about the film can be found here.

This is the fifth year ADL has sponsored its Stand Up Award.  Previous winners explored the lives of a drag performer in Cuba (Viva, 2016), Polish migrant workers in Sweden (Strawberry Days, 2017), Syrian refugees seeking passage to Berlin (Sky and Ground, 2018), and a team of basketball players with disabilities (Campeones, 2019).

ADL, founded in 1913, is among the world’s leading organizations fighting bigotry, hatred, and discrimination.  Learn more at www.adl.org.  ADL’s Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Office was established in 2001.  

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