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Local filmmaker to inspire the Central Coast with documentary at SLO Film Fest

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The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival kicks off this week with entries from all around the world.

But one local documentary filmmaker didn't even have to leave the county to find a subject whose life and legacy started with the Second World War and spanned several continents.

Now, Carlos Plummer of Cambria is inspiring audiences around the Central Coast with his 17-minute short, "The Nine Lives of Harald Bauer."

"I am quite a nerd or geek," explained Carlos. 
"You don't seem ashamed by that," we pointed out.
"No, I'm not," laughed Carlos.

The 15-year-old's work space is crammed with books, props, his portrait of Spiderman and lots of movie memorabilia and posters.

"I would call myself a learner," he clarified. "You know, someone who's open to learning new things."

Awhile back, Carlos learned about an Atascadero man's astonishing past, born an American, but raised in Germany, at just 17, Harald Bauer was drafted into the Luftwaffe. Harald explains in the film voice over, "March 23rd, I was attached to fly a plane to a base north of Berlin," he recounted.
"I was told 'Fly west and land at an open base near the German navy base of Wilhelmshaven. Land it there and they said stay overnight. Tomorrow, we'll tell you where to deliver the plane.' "  

That plane was an experimental jet-powered aircraft that was far faster than anything the Allied Forces had at the time. But Bauer's was right off the assembly line, unarmed and a sitting duck on the tarmac.

"Next morning, we had sirens and loudspeaker yelling 'everybody that could fly out! Get the hell out of that airbase!' " Bauer recounts. It was an air-raid. American fighter planes and bombers were raking the airfield.
 
"I didn't see that the P-51s were coming down until the red tracers went by and all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom!" explains Bauer.  He was hit by gunfire."I got like a hammer blow on my leg. the engine stopped and i was looking for a big, green field where to land because bailing out was not an option," he tells the camera.

Carlos Plummer explains the design problem facing pilots whose planes were compromised. "The pilot couldn't eject, because if he did, he would go straight back into the engine.

"I saw a big green field and said maybe I can crash-land in that field, but the blood loss and so forth, I apparently lost consciousness for awhile," says Bauer.  "And when I came to, I heard an unfamiliar voice say, 'that son of a bitch is still alive!' "
 
That's just the start of the story of Harald Bauer's remarkable life, as told in this documentary. He was a man who would later serve in the U.S. Navy in the Korean war and go on to work as a journalist at the White House.It's a complicated biography, told in a compact, 17-minute, riveting piece of filmmaking by Carlos Plummer.

I asked Bauer about his experience working with the budding filmmaker.
"When you think about Carlos, what springs to mind?" I asked. "Talent," he responded.  "Terrific guy. Self-made."

You can say the two have inspired each other and with any luck audiences around the world.Carlos' film, "The Nine Lives of Harald Bauer" screens Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. at the Downtown Cinemas.

The film is also entered into a short film competition through public television station KCET, Los Angeles. If his film gets enough votes there, Carlos' work could make it to the Cannes Film Festival.

For more information on how you can vote, go to https://www.kcet.org/shows/fine-cut/the-nine-lives-of-harald-bauer

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