New film productions to celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare; The Hungry named Film London’s first UK-India co-production.
Film London has named Sir Kenneth Branagh as its patron for Shakespeare on Screen, a year-long programme that will form part of the celebrations marking the 400 years since the death of the revered playwright.
As well as supporting Film London’s work, Branagh is also set to participate in next year’s activity, with details set to be revealed next year.
Shakespeare on Screen will include a series of new productions celebrating the Bard’s legacy. These will include a feature film, two shorts from all-female filmmaking teams, three artists’ animations and a BBC Arena documentary examining Shakespeare’s screen legacy.
Some of these productions will be screened nationally as well as forming part of the British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme, which will see a range of content toured internationally in partnership with the BFI.
Branagh, whose film director (and actor) credits include Henry V (1989), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000), said: “Much of my work has involved bringing Shakespeare to the stage and the screen, so I’m looking forward to working with Film London as their patron for Shakespeare on Screen.
“This celebrates the fascinating, ever-evolving relationship between Shakespeare’s work and film. Storytellers at every stage of their careers continue to draw from the playwright’s work, so it is fitting that this project – through an ambitious series of brand new commissions – showcases emerging and established talent alike.
“It is a pleasure to be involved with a project which aims to bring his work to countless new audiences, inspiring as many people as possible along the way.”
The Shakespeare on Screen projects inculde The Hungry, a UK-India co-production made through Microwave International: Shakespeare India.
The feature will unite Asian filmmaking talent from both countries and is written and directed by Bornila Chatterjee (Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining), co-written and produced by Tanaji Dasgupta and Kurban Kassam (line producer, 20,000 Days on Earth).
The film, which is a contemporary retelling of Shakespearian tragedy Titus Andronicus, is set in the extravagant surroundings of an Indian wedding whilst exploring the role of the patriarch and corruption in Indian politics and big business.
Made under the principle of Microwave, the film has a budget of £300,000 ($450,000), raised by Indian funders Cinestaan Film Company and a UK SEIS.
Two new partnerships have also been confirmed for this project: Nyman Libson Paul/Goldfinch Entertainment are joining as accountants and finance consultants, while Twickenham Studios will be delivering a package of post-production support – overseen by Mick Audsley (Everest, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) – that will make use of the studio’s new facilities.
The training elements of the scheme, including the week-long Microschool, are funded by the British Council.
Shakespeare’s Sister will see Film London work in partnership with the British Council, through a short film fund for female filmmaking teams in a bid to address gender disparity within the film industry.
It offers two teams £15,000 ($22,000) in production funding, plus expert support and professional mentoring from Film4. The selected teams will also receive a year’s free membership with Women in Film & TV (WFTV).
The shortlisted projects and the teams behind them are:
Marina and Adrienne (inspired by ‘Pericles, Price of Tyre’) by writer-director Lucy Campbell and producer Loran Dunn
Some Sweet Oblivious Antidote (drawing on a variety of Shakespearian quotes for its dialogue) by director Christiana Ebohon, writer Moya O’Shea and producer Fiona Gillies
The Players (inspired by ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘As You Like It’) by director Aurora Fearnley, writer Abigail Tarttelin and producers Jude Goldrei and Maria Forsstrom
WYRDOES (inspired by ‘Macbeth’) and writer-director Nat Luurtsema and producer Jennifer Eriksson
The Lovers’ Guide to Hunting (inspired by ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’) by director Ita Fitzgerald, writer Laura Evelyn and producer Janet Marrett
The Tempest (inspired by ‘The Tempest’) by director Debs Paterson, writer Melissa Iqbal and producer Jo Allan
A slate of four short animated films from artist filmmakers Shaun Clark, Sharon Liu, Kim Noce, Farouq Suleiman and Jonathan Bairstow, developed in partnership with the London Shakespeare Centre at King’s College London and animation companies Film Club at Th1ng and Sherbet.
The aim of the project is to develop and create contemporary artworks that take iconic Shakespeare imagery as their starting point and respond in a variety of irreverent and original ways, in a bid to make Shakespeare and academic research current and engaging to a wide audience.
The artist filmmakers had access to the research and expertise from the London Shakespeare Centre, especially the PhD research of Sally Barnden supervised by Professor Gordon McMullan, and their ideas were developed during workshops supported by the Cultural Institute at Kings College London.
All the World’s a Screen – Shakespeare on Film
A documentary film for the BBC’s Arena arts strand, looking at the heritage, complex history, artistic contradictions and cultural achievements of Shakespeare, translated into the moving image.
Aside from documenting the film and television history of Shakespeare, the doc will also explore the creative resonance and endurance of the Bard.
The film is a BBC Arena Production produced in association with Film London, written and produced by David Thompson and Adrian Wootton, directed by David Thompson. Arena series editor is Anthony Wall.