Dr. James D’Arc, Curator of BYU Motion Pictures Archive/ Cooper Collection, Joins Foundation Advisory Board to Produce Film on Merian C Cooper, "Greatest Hollywood Hero"

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The Foundation to Illuminate America’s Heroes announces the addition of Dr. James V. D’Arc, Curator of the Motion Picture and Arts and Communications Archives and the Merian C. Cooper Collection at Brigham Young University, to the Foundation’s International Advisory Board seeking to produce a feature film on Merian C. Cooper, named “Hollywood’s Greatest Hero of the 20th Century”.


“Merian C. Cooper deserves every bit of attention we can give to this extraordinary life,” said Dr. D’Arc, “I am pleased to lend my assistance to the effort to produce a full feature film on his life as an inspiration to others.”

The Foundation to Illuminate America’s Heroes announced today the addition of Dr. James V. D’Arc to the International Advisory Board to assist the Foundation in the development of a Hollywood feature film to tell the inspirational true story of Merian C. Cooper and the famed Kosciuszko Squadron.

Dr. D’Arc is the Curator of the BYU Motion Picture Archive and the Arts and Communications Archive, L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Brigham Young University. Dr. D’Arc, who has taught motion picture history for over 30 years is also the producer of the BYU Film Music Archive original soundtrack CD series. The Merian C. Cooper Papers were acquired for BYU by Dr. D’Arc in 1986 and contain boxes of correspondence, scripts, unrealized projects, scrapbooks and over 800 photographs spanning the length of Cooper’s amazing career. The Cooper papers have since been used for many articles, television documentaries, and was the basis for Mark Vaz’s biography of General Cooper, Living Dangerously (New York: Villard, 2005).

“Merian C. Cooper deserves every bit of attention we can give to this extraordinary life,” said Dr. D’Arc, “I am pleased to lend my assistance to the effort to produce a full feature film on his life as an inspiration to others.” “In Merian C. Cooper, we have a genuine hero. He endured to the end. His life extended beyond two World Wars as well as a distinguished Hollywood and business career. He was able to adapt and re-invent himself in a number of significant ways, but always the constants in his life were these words: courage, decency, leadership and honor.”

“We are excited to add Dr. James D’Arc to the Foundation’s International Advisory Board,” said David C. Jamison, Foundation executive director, “He brings a unique perspective to the group—both the knowledge gained from the Papers of Merian C. Cooper as well as a thorough understanding of the development of a feature film and contacts in the film and publishing communities. We will also be inviting Peter Jackson and Kevin Brownlow, who produced and directed “I Am Kong” and the Deluxe Extended Edition of “King Kong”, to be members of our International Advisory Board, along with Mark Vaz, who published the biography on Cooper in 2006.

“Dr. D’Arc joins a group of distinguished American and Polish experts,” said Jamison, “The International Advisory Board is comprised of experts in American and Polish history, aviation, film and production, all of whom share a passion for the story of Merian C. Cooper and the group of American and Polish aviators who formed the famed Kosciuszko Squadron to aid Poland in the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919-1921. This outstanding and true story of their risk for freedom in remembrance of the personal sacrifice of two Polish officers, Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Kazimierz Pulaski, who came to America’s aid during the Revolutionary War, is one that simply must be made into a feature Hollywood film for the world to see.”

Other members of the International Advisory Board include:

** Anthony J. Bajdek, Chairman, is President/Founder, American Association of the Friends of Kosciuszko at West Point; National Vice President for American Affairs, Polish American Congress; President/Founder, Polish American Congress of New Hampshire; and Associate Dean (ret.) and Senior Lecturer in History, Northeastern University.

** Dr. Michael Peszke, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut, Consultant to the Kosciuszko Squadron Exhibit at the New England Air Museum which was supported by the Polish-American community, and a Historian who has published numerous works on Polish Military history, including the Kosciuszko Squadron.

** Michael Orzachowski , a journalist and writer in Poland. He is the author of the screenplay “Wings of Freedom-1920”, a screenplay about the true story of Merian C. Cooper and the Kosciuszko Squadron in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920. His screenplay received a scholarship and is supported and backed by the Polish Film Institute in Poland.

** Mr. Pawel Biel is a Polish-American Cinematographer based out of New York City. He has worked on a number of films, documentaries and commercials for clients including Warner Brothers, the History Channel, SYFY, BRAVO, BBC, NBC and ABC. The story of Marian C. Cooper and the Kosciuszko Squadron has greatly influenced and inspired Mr. Biel’s work and life. He is originally from Krakow.

** Mr. Tomasz Jegierski is the founder and CEO of FT Films in Poland. He and his company specialize in the production and distribution of true historical films. FT Films is recently doing promotion and distribution of “Five Days of War” about the war in the Republic of Georgia, staring Val Kilmer, Dean Cain and Andy Garcia. The film, directed by Renny Harlin, will have a Polish premiere at the Krakow Film Festival on April 14, 2012.

** Igor I. Sikorsky, Jr., Esq. , son of aviation pioneer and Founder of Sikorsky Aircraft, Igor I. Sikorsky, has been active in aviation history both as a lecturer and author. Active in the Polish American groups as Vice President of the Polish American Cultural Club of Greater Hartford and Counsel to the National Polish American Cultural Club. Mr. Sikorsky has been involved in the presentation of the history of the Kosciuszko Squadron and the role of Merian C. Cooper as an American hero.

** William Ciosek is a founding Board member of the Foundation. He has researched the story of Merian C. Cooper and the Kosciuszko Squadron for over 15 years. He has written the film treatment entitled “Honor to You” and created and produced the video treatment, entitled “The Greatest Story Not Yet Told!”, both of which are available within the Foundation’s website at http://www.illuminateamericasheroes.com

Mr. Ciosek stated, “The experts who have joined our initial International Advisory Board will bring additional prominent members of both the Hollywood and Polish film communities to this Board and team. Together they will assist the Foundation to develop and produce a major Hollywood feature film of this great story for the world to see.” “We are hopeful,” he added, “that Dr. D’Arc and the other members of our International Advisory Board will take the lead in helping the Foundation reach members and associates of the Polish American communities, as well as all patriotic Americans, to enlist their help and support to enable the Foundation to illuminate this great story to the world.”

The Foundation’s achievements in establishing a tax exempt charitable entity, creating and launching a website and embedded YouTube feature film treatment, becoming known and naming Merian C. Cooper as the “Greatest American Hero of the Twentieth Century” and his involvement with the Kosciuszko Squadron as the “Greatest Story Not Yet Told”, are hallmark achievements. The work of the Foundation and this Merian C. Cooper/Kosciuszko Squadron feature film project have become known internationally. These remarkable achievements have been funded by a small group who have a passion for the mission of the Foundation to seek out and illuminate the lives of true American heroes, past and present, and they share a vision of illuminating the inspirational story of Cooper and the Kosciuszko Squadron through a Hollywood feature film so that present and future generations can be inspired.

“The Foundation is now looking for broad support to get this story told”, said Jamison. “The Foundation has set an initial goal of raising $1 million dollars which will take us through Step Two, securing a Hollywood screen writer and Director for the feature film, plus the necessary expenses to take us to the next level. We are appealing especially to those in the Polish American community to take the lead in helping and supporting the Foundation to tell this inspirational story that links two great nations, the United States and Poland. We are also appealing to patriotic Americans who honor those who fight for freedom, to support the telling of this inspirational story to the world.

The Foundation’s website at http://www.illuminateamericasheroes.com contains the story of Merian C. Cooper and the Kosciuszko Squadron, told through an embedded YouTube video, entitled: “The Greatest Story Not Yet Told!” The written film treatment, “Honor To You” can be clicked and read within the website. The website also contains a donation link which allows everyone who supports this great story and mission to make tax exempt donation of any amount. All donations will greatly help the Foundation to illuminate this heroic story to the whole world.

For further information and questions about the Foundation and the Marian C. Cooper/Kosciuszko Squadron Film Project, please contact David C. Jamison, Executive Director at davidj(at)illuminateamericasheroes(dot)com or by calling (334) 718-9501.

Contact information:
David C. Jamison, Executive Director
The Foundation to Illuminate America’s Heroes, Inc.
(334) 718-9501

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