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Bloomingdale Family Subjects Of New Pan Am Documentary

Left to right: Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis of Bloomingdale with Director Phil Furey.
Left to right: Peter and Aphrodite Tsairis of Bloomingdale with Director Phil Furey. Photo Credit: Jeanne Muchnick

GREENWICH, Conn. -- The more people that see the documentary, Since: The Bombing of Pan Am 103 , the more impact it will hopefully have, especially in light of the recent shooting in Orlando, Fl. and the continuing problems we as a country have with terrorism.

Such was the message of Bloomingdale residents Peter and AphroditeTsairis who, as two of the subjects profiled in the film, know first-hand the political fall-out of terrorist attacks and the personal devastating loss. The couple lost their daughter, Alexis, in the Pan Am bombing that ripped apart over Lockerbie, Scotland in December, 1988.

The disaster, initially treated as an aviation accident, killed 270 people and ushered in the frightful new age of terrorism.

The Tsairis' spoke at the screening of the film, which was shown at the Greenwich International Film Festival in Greenwich, Conn. on Sunday, June 12.

The documentary, which began with a moment of silence to honor the victims and families of the Orlando, Fla. mass shooting, weaves news footage with the personal accounts of family members. The Tsairis couple, which started The Alexia Foundation for World Peace and Cultural Understanding at Syracuse University in honor of their daughter, Alexia, who was lost in the attack, are among the main subjects in the film.

"Terrorism is seen as a present-day epidemic, but the families of the 270 victims of Pan Am Flight 103 have lived with it for decades," stressed Director Phil Furey. "The way they banded together and used the power of the media to tell their story basically helped form the blueprint for how families of such tragedies are treated today."

He said the Pan Am story is such a massive event that it's almost over-saturated. "Nothing told the story from start to finish, and that's what I set out to do," he said. Asked why he invested almost a decade of his life to this film, he said, quite simply it was the kids.

Many of the victims on the plane were Syracuse University students in the prime of their lives, returning from a semester abroad in London. Furey, who did a semester in London while a student at Boston University, said if Pan Am occurred 10 years later, that ,very easily, could have been him.

Two students from Bergen County were on the plane: Joyce Dater, 20, from Ramsey and Alexia Kathryn Tsairis, 20, from Franklin Lakes. Others from Bergen included Michael Warren Buser, 34, of Ridgefield Park; Warren Max Buser, 62, from Glen Rock, Gretchen Frank Ciulla, 45, from Park Ridge and Elia G. Stratis, 43, from Montvale. The one Passaic County casualty was Roger Elwood Hurst, 38, of Ringwood.

"It's so difficult when something bad like this happens and it seems like the rest of the world goes on," stressed Furey. His goal: To not only make sure no one ever forgets, but to use the film as an educational tool. He is presently working with various schools as well as other distribution platforms, to make the film more available.

Go to www.since103.com/ for more information. Go to www.alexiafoundation.org/ for information on the Alexia Foundation.

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