Michigan Author/Filmmaker Conferred Prestigious Knighthood Award from the Italian Government

Jun 09, 2023 600

At an official ceremony in Detroit during Italy’s national day celebration on June 2, Novi (MI) resident, Pierette Domenica Simpson, received the esteemed knighthood award which recognizes outstanding expatriates for their efforts in the preservation and promotion of Italy’s prestige abroad. 

Ms. Simpson was nominated by the Consul of Italy in Detroit, Allegra Baistrocchi, for her “passion and professionality in promoting Italian language and culture as an author and documentarian. The nomination was accepted by the President of Italy and its Minister of Cultural Affairs who signed and bestowed the Knighthood: Order of the Star of Italy to Ms. Simpson. 

During the award ceremony in Detroit, Consul Allegra Baistrocchi explained to the audience what had led to Simpson’s knighthood. “After a career as a linguistic teacher, Pierette became the first woman to publish a book about one own’s shipwreck, which she survived at the age of nine, recounting both the human and scientific aspects, including the collision and sinking of the controversial Andrea Doria-Stockholm collision of 1956, which historians consider to be the greatest sea rescue in history. Alive on the Andrea Doria: The Greatest Sea Rescue in History is also published in Italy as L’ultima notte dell’Andrea Doria. Pierette also published a novel on the same shipwreck inspiring young people to study marine forensics to prevent future calamities at sea. She also penned many technical articles about marine safety that led her to be made an honorary member of the “National Association of Marine Forensics.”

Baistrocchi also named another of Simpson’s contributions to her legacy with the docufilm, Andrea Doria: Are the Passengers Saved?, the first documentary produced by a shipwreck survivor. The international production has won numerous awards, including “Best Direction” at the Asti International Film Festival for director Luca Guardabascio of Rome.”

Ms. Baistrocchi concluded, “Pierette’s scholarly work in publications and cinema has added stature and justice to all Italians by vindicating the Italian captain, crew, and shipbuilders after being falsely accused of negligence in the maritime collision. Her personal and educational recollections have contributed to the collective memory of Italian immigration.

For these reasons, Pierette is being made “Cavaliere” (knight) of the Ordine della Stella d'Italia (Order of the Star of Italy) – Thank you Pierette for promoting our national prestige abroad, for fostering friendly relations and co-operation, and for making the sea a safer place.”

Twenty years ago, Simpson began her literary work regarding the controversial and catastrophic collision between Andrea Doria with the Swedish MS Stockholm, that she survived at the age of nine while immigrating to America with her grandparents. The research for her non-fiction book, Alive on the Andrea Doria: The Greatest Sea Rescue in History was a collaboration with marine scientists, captains, divers, eyewitnesses, etc. to establish the truth of what had really happened on a foggy night on the Atlantic on July 25-26, 1956.

Simpson explains, “Previous publications did not have the scientific evidence which was later established by computer simulation in the 1970s at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy of New York. Due to the discrimination toward Italians after WWII, the captain and crew of the Italian liner were unjustly blamed for the collision. It has been my mission to correct a historical injustice.”

In addition to her creative contributions, Simpson is also the gatekeeper of Andrea Doria survivor stories, and organizer of survivor reunions.

Unrelated to the Andrea Doria theme, Ms. Simpson is the founder of “Project Detur”. Her documentary and exhibitions in the sister cities of Detroit and Turin feature Richard Haskin’s photographs of artists of Italian descent in the Detroit area. www.DeturProject.com video

For additional info and interviews in English or Italian contact: Pierette Simpson, [email protected] http://www.pierettesimpson.com/ https://www.facebook.com/andreadoriathemovie/


Documentary film link provided upon request:

[email protected]

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