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Pan Am 103 Documentary Closes Greenwich Fest, Puts Human Faces On Terrorism

Director Phil Furey, left, with two of the parents featured in his film, Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis of Bloomingdale, N.J.
Director Phil Furey, left, with two of the parents featured in his film, Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis of Bloomingdale, N.J. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick

GREENWICH, Conn. -- The Greenwich International Film Festival closed its five-day event Sunday, June 12, with " Since: The Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. " But first, the Festival, along with Director Phil Furey, asked for a moment of silence to honor the victims and families of the Orlando, Fla., mass shooting in a crowded gay nightclub.

Furey's documentary, which weaves news footage with the personal accounts of family members affected by the Pan Am 103 tragedy, spans the years from 1988, when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, to 2015.

The disaster, initially treated as an aviation accident, killed 270 people and ushered in the frightful new age of terrorism.

"Terrorism is seen as a present-day epidemic, but the families of the 270 victims of Pan Am Flight 103 have lived with it for decades," Furey explained. "The way they banded together and used the power of the media to tell their story basically helped form the blueprint for how families of such tragedies are treated today."

He said the Pan Am story is such a massive event that it's almost over-saturated. "Nothing told the story from start to finish, and that's what I set out to do," Furey said. Asked why he invested almost a decade of his life to this film, he said, quite simply, it was the kids.

Many of the victims on the plane were Syracuse University students in the prime of their lives, returning from a semester abroad in London. Furey, who did a semester in London while a student at Boston University, said if Pan Am had occurred 10 years later, that very easily could have been him.

Three students from Fairfield County were on the plane: Shannon Davis, 19, from Shelton; Thomas Britton Schultz, 20, from Ridgefield; and Amy Elizabeth Shapiro, 21, from Stamford.

"It's so difficult when something bad like this happens and it seems like the rest of the world goes on," he said. His goal: To not only make sure no one ever forgets, but also to use the film as an educational tool. He is working with various schools as well as other distribution platforms, to make the film more available.

Go to www.since103.com/ for more information on the documentary.

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