A PROUD mum was left in tears after seeing her baby appearing in acclaimed Oscar-contending film 1917.

Ivy Macnamara, who was born on February 21 last year at Colchester Hospital, was cast in the film before mum April Mclellen knew it was to be directed by Academy Award winning director Sam Mendes.

The film, set at the height of the First World War, tells the story of a pair of British soldiers who are tasked to cross enemy territory to deliver a warning of an impending ambush ahead of an attack which could cost 1,600 lives.

In one touching scene, a soldier encounters a French woman and a baby sheltering in a bombed-out building.

Ivy was picked to play the role ahead of 60 other babies following a casting process.

April, 25, of Clacton, said: “My cousin is into showbusiness and is signed up to an agency and they heard about a one-off casting for a baby for a film.

“They were looking for a Caucasian baby, three months old, for filming as soon as possible.

“I sent some photos and details to them and she was shortlisted down to the final six or seven out of 60.

“Being a first-time mum – and I know all mums think their baby is beautiful – I just wanted to put her forward for it.

“I never thought she would actually get the job.

“They were very vague with what the film was about to start with, but as the process went on we found out it was being directed by Sam Mendes.”

The filming of the scene then took place at Shepperton Studios in London towards the end of June.

April added: “I was there when they were filming so was aware of what the story was about, but I cried when I first saw it on the screen.

“I didn’t realise Ivy’s scene would be so meaningful and emotional.

“Ivy did it in four or five takes – they all enjoyed working with her, including Claire who played the French woman.

“I got to meet Sam Mendes and George MacKay, who plays Lance Corporal Schofield.

“I didn’t know who George was before the filming, but he’s the main star and he’s going to be a big name after this.

“George couldn’t talk much when they were on set. It was very strict and I couldn’t take any pictures.

“But as we were leaving, George ran up to us to say goodbye.”

April, who works for Colchester-based Palletways, said she would like Ivy to continue her showbiz career.

April added: “We watched the movie at Leicester Square with the cast and crew the day before the premiere.

“It was very exciting and quite overwhelming.”

1917 is loosely based on a story that Alfred Mendes - grandfather of director Sam - told him as a child.

Mendes said he “couldn’t be more thrilled” this week as his film was nominated for ten awards at the Oscars, including best picture and best director.

He said: “This movie was a labour of love for many people, myself included, so to see it recognised in this way is moving for all of us.

“I would like to thank the Academy on behalf of my fellow producers, and on behalf of every single person who put their heart and soul into this film.”

1917 is in cinemas now.