An Interview with Producer and Director Matt Spangler
Q: What inspired your documentary on African veterans of WWII? What do you hope to achieve with the documentary?
Several years ago I read a Washington Post article about African veterans of the war, and how many of them had not been properly compensated for their service. I was frankly amazed to hear that there were African veterans of the war at all, as it’s a part of history that Americans are just not familiar with. That’s a blind spot on World War II history that I hope to reverse with Forgotten Warriors of the Empire.
Q: What have you learned from this creative endeavor?
There’s so much. I would say the greatest revelation for me so far is how strikingly similar the patterns of transformation in civil society and racial injustice were across all corners of the globe in the 20th century (and no doubt today as well).
Q: What was the most challenging part of producing the documentary?
The biggest challenge for my executive producer, Amori Langstaff, and I was without a doubt locating the veterans themselves. We spent over two months contacting many organizations and individuals in Africa, Europe and the U.S. before we got a lead on a single veteran. That persistence paid off, though, as we were able to record interviews with veterans from South Africa, Malawi, and Somalia. We believe there could be hundreds, perhaps thousands, more surviving veterans.
Executive Producer Amori Langstaff
Photographed by Darren Francis, Tammy Khajotia, Tom Chiphwanya, George Ntonya, David Campbell and Ledion Isufaj
Edited by Matt Spangler
Animation by Anna Ferrara and Elaine Seward
Consulting Producer Julia Quinn
Original Music by Mike Barbier
Website Designed by Amori Langstaff