Members of the St. Simons Literary Guild will likely have lots of questions next week when the real-life daughter of the protagonist in the 2015 film “Bridges of Spies” comes for a visit.
Mary Ellen Fuller is the daughter of American lawyer James Donovan, who negotiated with the Soviet Union for the release of downed U-2 spy-plane pilot Francis Gary Powers in the early 1960s. The guild is set to screen the film at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Casino Theatre, 550 Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island, and will follow up with a talk by Fuller at 7 p.m. Thursday, also at the Casino Theatre. The film is free, but donations are accepted. The talk by Fuller is free for guild members, and $10 for nonmembers. Reservations are recommended and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The film, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Donovan’s 1964 book, “Strangers on the Bridge”, follows Donovan as he works to mediate the exchange of the downed American pilot for a Soviet spy in U.S. custody. Donovan famously defended the Soviet spy in American courts, a move that was heavily criticized by many during the height of the Cold War.
Fuller, who was a young girl at the time of the negotiations, grew up in New York City with St. Simons Island resident Catherine McCall. As they grew older, the two lost touch, but when McCall saw the dramatization on the big screen in 2015, it got her thinking.
“My husband and I grew up on the same street in Brooklyn, and we were both friends of (Fuller),” McCall said. “When we saw the movie, we were so taken by the integrity of her father.”
McCall said she went home and started searching for Fuller on Facebook, where she found her and rekindled a friendship with Fuller, whom she had not seen since the eighth grade.
“We made a time to talk on the telephone, and she told me that her life had completely changed since the movie came out,” McCall said. “The publisher of her father’s book has had a speaking engagement every day for her, either in person, or on the telephone or through the internet.”
Fuller was kind enough to lend her voice to yet one more speaking engagement on St. Simons Island.
“I told her we have a literary guild, and invited her to come,” McCall said. “I asked her to come and show the movie and give a talk, and she agreed.”
McCall said she’s looking forward to seeing her long-lost friend again, and she hopes the film and accompanying lecture will be engrossing for attendees.
“I think it will be very interesting,” McCall said. “We’re delighted that she’s coming.”