Documentarian alumnus presents his film


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Loyola alumnus Royd Anderson presented his documentary, “Pan Am Flight 759,” Thursday, April 11 at Film Buffs presentation.

Anderson, A’98, directed and produced the documentary, which premiered on July 20, 2012. The film was released on the 30-year anniversary of a tragic plane crash in Kenner, La.

Anderson got his start in filmmaking while working on his master’s thesis at University of Louisiana Lafayette. He wrote and directed his first documentary, “The Luling Ferry Disaster,” based on the worst ferry accident in U.S. history, Anderson said.

“I never knew my low-budget student film would get so much media attention,” Anderson said. “The success of the movie led to the creation of a monument for the victims and survivors in 2009.”

Anderson was introduced to films at an early age. His grandfather owned a cinema in Cuba and he has loved films ever since.

“When I was in high school, my dad made it a requirement in the household that my brothers and I watch classic epics like ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and ‘El Cid,'” Anderson said.

The plane crash happened when Anderson was 10 and, as an adult, he felt an obligation to his students to teach them this piece of local history. Anderson said it is time for students to learn Louisiana history and not only what is covered on standardized testing, which he claimed is the focus of most public schools.

“For the past several years, only one question on the high stakes standardized test for eighth graders, the LEAP, is designated to Louisiana history,” Anderson said. “It’s time for Bobby Jindal to take some accountability for this tragedy in the public school system.”

Anderson said, after filming “Pan Am,” the most emotionally difficult part of making the documentary was editing. Hearing from the victim’s families over and over connected him to the victims.

“I cried myself to sleep many times, thinking about Lisa Baye, a six-year old girl who was killed on the ground,” Anderson said.

Dianna Sanchez, a psychology junior and member of the Film Buffs, went to the screening of the documentary. She said the film showed how much effort Anderson put into making sure audiences learned from the documentary.

“It was difficult to watch, but it was very good,” Sanchez said. “It all came together to show how heroism was involved on the plane and on the ground, and how it continues today in Kenner.”

Sanchez said anyone who sees the film would benefit from learning about this piece of Louisiana history.

“I think it’s important for anyone to see,” Sanchez said. “To learn about this tragedy, but also about the profound community that came together to help each other through the devastation. It was really humbling.”

Michael Ciolin, film and digital media junior, was in charge of setting up the screening for Film Buffs. He said Anderson’s film followed traditional documentary style, but he added in his own twist.

“He did leave out inter-titles and name captions so that the audience would feel more closely connected with the subjects of the documentary and focus less on the fact that it is still simply a film,” Ciolin said.

Ciolin said to bring an alumnus film would be encouraging to the film department and bring interest to Film Buffs, so when Anderson approached him, Ciolin felt it was a great opportunity.

Sanchez said being part of Film Buffs gives her the opportunity to meet directors like Anderson.

“The audience got to speak with him and I could tell he was a very noble person,” Sanchez said. “He is going to go on and do really amazing things with film and people.”

Lauren Hinojosa can be reached at [email protected]


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