Chippenham wartime tales up for film awards

A film telling the stories of people from Chippenham in the First World War has made it through to the finals of the Houston International Film Festival.

Finding the Forgotten made an hour-long film last year, called Lost Generation, which is to form part of a display in the town’s museum from this April.

An edited version will also be shown at this year’s film festivals in London, Cannes and Edinburgh.

Founder member Richard Broadhead spent two months writing the script, formulating the stories from authentic wartime letters given to him as he researched books commemorating those who served in the war.

Now he has edited it down to 15 minutes and renamed it Letters From a Small Town. It has been entered into the documentary and historical film categories at Houston Worldfest, as well as the new short film section of the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Lost Generation, made with funding from the Lottery and Chippenham Area Board, will be part of two interactive units in the museum commemorating the centenary of the start of the Great War. Each of the town’s three secondary schools will also be given a unit to use as part of their history classes.

Mr Broadhead said, on the advice of the schools, he had hired professional actors.

Chippenham Museum curator Mel Barnett said people were very moved when it was shown to about 150 viewers on Remembrance Sunday.

Mr Broadhead said he thought it had a good chance at Cannes: “It’ll make you think. It’s more about the people than the war.

“We don’t mention the names of battles. A whole generation grew up without fathers. It was the biggest loss of life in Wiltshire since the plague. It stands out as a film because it’s real things that actually happened.”

Cannes created a section for short films in 2011, to encourage filmmakers of the future. The jury will be headed by Jane Campion.