THE HERO’S HERO: The Forgotten Life of William Barker
22nd Annual Atlantic Film Festival screening Tuesday September 16, 2003
Road House Films Inc. and Ocean Entertainment Ltd. are pleased to announce the first public screening of Michael MacDonald’s latest documentary, “The Hero’s Hero: The Forgotten Life of William Barker,” at the 22nd annual Atlantic Film Festival. The one-hour film about this gifted WWI flying Ace will screen on Tuesday, September 16 at 7:15 p.m. at Famous Players Park Lane Cinema 6.
“Barker was the greatest, and deserves his place in the pantheon of Canadian flying heroes. It’s time that Billy Barker, the undiscovered hero, was better known. This terrific film helps Canadians appreciate who he was and the legacy he left.”
— Pierre Berton
“A heartfelt biography . . . a stirring story . . . surprising revelations . . . timely viewing.”
– Andrew Ryan, The Globe and Mail
“Fascinating . . . in-depth . . .’The Hero’s Hero’ is thorough, enlightening, and quite captivating, an impressive feat.”
– Brad Oswald, Winnipeg Free Press
His name may not ring many bells today, but Lt. Col. William George Barker, VC, was “the greatest fighter pilot that ever lived,” according to Canada’s better-known Ace, Billy Bishop. To this day, Barker – a Manitoba farm boy – remains Canada’s most decorated soldier, and his untimely demise at age 34 remains a mystery.
A fighter pilot in World War I was signing his own death warrant. Planes were primitive. There was little training. The average life expectancy was less than three weeks. Yet William Barker logged more time in the air than virtually any other pilot. Among his peers, he was idolized for his brilliance, his modesty, and his unwavering courage under fire.
But Barker’s prodigal talents ultimately turned against him after the war, in a fall from grace that shocked the nation at a time when even other war heroes admired Barker.
Filmed at locations in Canada, France and Italy, “The Hero’s Hero” also features exclusive interviews with Billy Bishop’s son and WWII pilot Arthur Bishop, noted Canadian military historian Sydney Wise and Barker biographer Wayne Ralph. Also interviewed are Barker’s siblings Marie and Orval (now deceased) and John Gray and Eric Peterson, the creative duo behind the popular stage play “Billy Bishop Goes to War.” The film incorporates compelling WWI footage and photographs from dozens of sources.
The screening is a chance to learn about this forgotten Canadian legend, in case you missed the film’s April 15 premiere on History Television. The inaugural broadcast of The Hero’s Hero began just 15 minutes before U.S. President George Bush declared war on Iraq. Even so, the show drew a solid number of viewers, and Barker’s story of skill and determination offers insights still applicable in today’s wartime situations.
The Hero’s Hero: The Forgotten Life of William Barker.
Produced by Ocean Entertainment Ltd.
Director: Michael MacDonald – Road House Films Inc.
Executive Producer: Peter Raymont
Producer: Johanna Eliot
Production Executive, History Television: Sydney Suissa
Production Executives, History Television: Cindy Witten and Michael Kot