The 4th Yucca Valley Film Festival will kick off Nov 11, at 6pm with the first red carpet of the festivities.

The event will be in person this year, through Nov 13, at the Yucca Valley Community Center.

But you also can enjoy select screenings on a digital version, and the main Virtual Event of this year will be the Yucca Valley premiere of THE LAST WITNESS, a feature film period piece starring ALEX PETTYFER (Magic Mike, I Am Number Four).

The movie also stars MICHAEL GAMBON (Harry Potter), TALULAH RILEY (Westworld) and GWILYM LEE (The Great). It is directed by Piotr Szkopiak, who responded to our questions for an exclusive interview.

WATCH THE LAST WITNESS online, free with email registration on XERB, from Nov 11, noon, to Nov 13, 11:30pm.

– Why was making that movie important to you?

My grandfather was executed in the Katyn Massacre so this is a legacy my family has lived with since the Second World War. The Katyn Massacre and its legacy is why my mother stayed in the UK after the war as Poland was allowed to remain occupied by the Soviet Union by the UK and US governments even though it was clear the Soviets were responsible for the massacre and had also deported over a million Poles to Siberia in a massive act of ethnic cleansing, my mother included.

– How did you assemble such an amazing cast?

My producer Carol Harding is represented by the same talent agency as Alex Pettyfer and Michael Gambon and we were obviously beyond thrilled that both agreed to be in the film, with Alex even becoming a co-producer. Robert Wieckiewicz was contacted by our Polish co-producer Krzysztof Solek and we travelled to Warsaw for a meeting that was scheduled to last 30 minutes but eventually lasted 4 hours, after which he agreed to play the part of Michael Loboda. Talulah Riley was always my first choice to play Jeanette Mitchell and luckily the stars aligned and she was keen and free during our filming dates.

– Did you film the movie entirely in the UK?

Yes the movie was shot entirely on location in the UK in and around the Midlands. The two key locations were Nesscliffe Military Training Area near Shrewsbury, which still housed original WW2 Nissen huts and gave us access to the forests we needed, and the Black Country Living Museum, which is essentially a backlot of period buildings and streets. The one direct link to Bristol where the story takes place is Clevedon Pier, which bookmarks the film.

– The movie is a thriller with a cover up and conspiracy theory elements. What can the audience expect when watching the film?

I wanted to make the story as accessible as possible and used the familiar trope of a journalist discovering a government cover up, which ultimately puts his life in danger. As the Katyn Massacre and its legacy is still not particularly well-known, I wanted the audience to be with Stephen as he slowly uncovers the conspiracy and learns its significance not only for Poland but for the world and it is still relevant today as what happened to Poland is happening again in Ukraine. Ultimately, I would like an audience to be entertained first and foremost but hopefully also educated about a lesser-known historical event that nevertheless had huge consequences.

WATCH THE LAST WITNESS online, free with email registration on XERB, from Nov 11, noon, to Nov 13, 11:30pm.

CREDITS DR The Last Witness, Piort Szkopiak, eOne/Momentum Pictures, Signature Entertainment, Kino Swiat.