‘Dear Sirs’ filmmakers applaud the local audience

Virtual screenings of “Dear Sirs” are available anytime through Thursday, Oct. 20, at HYPERLINK "https://watch.showandtell.film/watch/dearsirs-aarp-nc"https://watch.showandtell.film/watch/dearsirs-aarp-nc or at https://local.aarp.org/aarp-event/aarp-nc-dear-sirs-virtual-screening-and-qa-10202022-rfnn523szcf.html.

SUBLETTE COUNTY – When a documentary filmmaker from Wyoming who travels the world says their best screening event took place Oct. 6 at the Pinedale Library, it is simple to turn around and ask him why he rated this experience so highly.

Mark Pedri, grandson of World War II soldier and German POW survivor Silvio Pedri, set out to learn about the man he didn’t know as a child in Rock Springs.

Seventy-five years later, he and producer Carrie McCarthy brought the past to life with the documentary “Dear Sirs” and to Sublette County for one of its eight screenings across the state.

After the Oct. 6 screening and a Q&A moderated by friend Roger Weber, now of Pinedale, Pedri commented that the audience here was exceptional.

Pedri elaborated when asked if he could pinpoint why.

“The first time we presented one of our films in Pinedale was last September when we screened ‘Morfar’s View of the Winds,’ which was partially funded by Sublette County,” Pedri said in an email. “Despite only having about 35 people attend the event, we still had a great conversation during the Q&A.

“When we received a grant this year from the Wyoming Humanities Council to take our latest film ‘Dear Sirs’ to eight towns around Wyoming, we knew that Pinedale had to be on the list. The screening Thursday night (Oct. 6) was our 35th screening in the U.S. and Europe and of those, the seventh in Wyoming.

“Of all of the places we have taken the film, this screening was one of the best in terms of impact, audience reception and overall quality of the evening.”

Local Pinedale residents Roger and Jana Weber, formerly of Rock Springs, attended the premiere in Rock Springs last September so they knew what to expect in Pinedale, Pedri said. The Webers coordinated outreach countywide and generated a lot of positive word-of-mouth interest.

“When it came time for the doors to open, we welcomed over 110 guests to the event throughout the night,” Pedri said. “I think another reason why this event was so successful is that we had four organizations working together. The Sublette County Library provided a great venue to show the film, along with local promotion and coordination leading up to the event. The Wyoming Humanities Council and Wyoming PBS provided funding, and Wind River Brewing donated drinks for a meet-and-greet before the program. Roger Weber, who I’ve known for over 20 years moderated the Q&A. He’s first the moderator who knew both me and Silvio (my grandfather who the film is about), so he was able to offer a unique insight for the audience.”

On bicycle 75 years later, Pedri retraced his grandfather Silvio’s experience as a German POW during WWII.

“Pinedale is home to so many active people, so the biking aspect was relatable,” he said. “Many of the audience members also had a connection to WWII through a family member. This prompted one-on-one conversations between myself and numerous attendees before the screening at the meet-and-greet.

“Knowing that people in the audience had relatives with a powerful WWII experience made watching the film together more impactful. Overall, we had a great time in Pinedale reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Carrie and I are happy to call the event in Pinedale one of our best screenings of the tour.”

For more about the film and screenings, visit https://www.dearsirsfilm.com.