A story of German occupation, Allied liberation and the annual D-Day celebrations of Normandy told from the perspective of the French.
My oldest son, Hunter, serves in the United States Army and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY from 2012 – 2016, during which time he also served a tour in Afghanistan. In the spring of 2015, he called me, out of the blue and said, “Mom, the Army is sending me to France this summer for the D-Day celebrations.” D-Day celebrations? What were those? This was the first I was hearing about this! Forever a lover of history, and WWII in particular, I was not about to be left behind. So… in June, I followed him and his unit to Normandy. I was surprised and overwhelmed by the love and gratitude the French people showed toward American veterans, current US soldiers, and myself, just an average American citizen.
My first moments in Normandy felt like I’d been spit out of a time machine. I was surrounded by Willy’s Jeeps, GIs, and American flags. This was all occurring while songs like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy were playing in the background. It was the most patriotic event I have ever seen. This was extremely surreal. Was I really in France?!
Shortly after I arrived in Carentan, I found myself facing a field where American troops had landed after jumping from their C47s on June 6, 1944. I was then surrounded by WWII veterans who had been there, current American soldiers, and by thousands of French citizens – many dressed as American soldiers or civilians from 1944. We were all there, together, watching as modern-day American paratroopers recreated that historic event from 71 years earlier. It was surreal and incredibly powerful.
As I stood there, deeply moved by what I was suddenly a part of. My son was approached by a French woman who asked for a picture. Delighted and extremely proud, I introduced myself as his mother and offered to take the picture. This natural, instinctive decision would change my life. I soon learned that I was standing face to face with history itself – Dany Patrix Boucherie – The Girl Who Wore Freedom. From that moment on, Dany, her husband Jean-Marie, and her daughter Flo, became our guides in Normandy. They embodied the spirit of love and gratitude I felt from the French throughout my time in Normandy.
It was this powerful hospitality and love the French people showed Americans that captivated me. It was overwhelming and I found myself wondering… why? Where did it come from? How did it start? I’d always heard that the French hated Americans. However, everything I was experiencing completely contradicted this. This film seeks to answer this question.
There was a powerful image that stayed with me after I returned home from Normandy. WWII Veterans walked around each day with big red kisses on their foreheads and faces. Kisses that were given to them by grateful French women of all ages. Each veteran wore the lipstick kisses proudly as a badge of honor. As I was thinking about this one day, it hit me…it was so clear. This is a love story. Think about it, brave men landed in the Normans’ fields and on their shores beating back the oppressive tide of occupation that denied the people their basic freedoms. Goods such as fabric, flour and sugar were also denied them. The soldiers gave them simple gifts of whatever they had with them…gum, chocolate, life-savers, jackets and parachutes. They introduced them to pineapples and corn. They even gave them rides in their Jeeps. It was these acts of kindness that moved the French to fall in love, a passionate love. This overflowing love, gratitude and joy that I still see today.
This experience was a powerful reminder of who we are as Americans when we are at our very best. When we are standing up for those that who are poor, oppressed, especially those whose freedoms and liberties have been stolen. This is a reminder of how our individual and national acts of bravery demonstrated by self-sacrifice can influence a nation for generations to come.
Many American WWII documentaries relay the experiences about the soldiers, the battle plans and the losses. However, very few, if any, relay the experiences of WWII from the French civilian perspective. We know very little about them, who they are or what they endured. This documentary aims to change that. We follow the stories of the French civilians who lived through this time, resulting in the love affair that was born. This loves continues to this day, passed on by generation to generation.
Our story begins in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. We follow soldiers from the 101st Airborne as they join other units from the United States Army in Normandy, France to participate in the 74th annual D-Day commemorations. We watch the young soldiers from Ft. Campbell as they are visibly moved meeting with Normans, like Dany Patrix Boucherie, who survived the German occupation and experienced the freedom of the Allied liberation, and meeting the WWII veterans who liberated Normandy. We learn, along with these soldiers, new things about WWII from the French perspective. We watch them put fingers in bullet-holed walls and pass by blood stained pews. We see the love of the French toward Americans as they are stopped to pose for photos and sign autographs, and as they are cheered as they march in parades. We witness reenactments of historical events performed by the French and hear the French tell personal stories of the occupation and liberation.
ACT I – Occupation
ACT II – Anticipation, Landing & Liberation
ACT III – Reflection & Remembrance
Style & Format
This docu-drama will implement re-enactments to complement the heroic stories of the survivors and veterans of the occupation and the time leading up to the invasion and liberation of Normandy.
The visuals of the interviews will consist of dramatic backdrops, as in the interviews in HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” museum locations, homes and on-location scenes consisting of beaches, battle locations and memorials. The decision will be based on the context of the interviews.
To bring honor and respect to this story, the best production equipment will be used. Our team will document the imagery utilizing:
- 3 Camera and Audio Teams
- 3 Sony 4K CineAlta Cinema Cameras
- Aerial Drone Footage
- Carl Zeiss Cinema Lenses
- GoPro or Action Cameras for parachute jumps
- Professional Audio Equipment
- Original Music Scoring
- Dramatic Color Grading and Correction.
For final format we plan on a 4K 2.35 cinematic ratio for the greatest emotional and theatrical effect.