The BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) is proud to announce BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film: a spectacular UK-wide series of 300 special screenings and events celebrating the enormous impact the playwright’s life, work and legacy has had on cinema. The events will begin in April, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday 23 April.
The project is led by Film Hub London working in partnership with the BFI and the UK’s eight other film Hubs. BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film will see multiplexes, independent cinemas, film clubs, pop-ups and community venues the length and breadth of the UK enticing audiences with a broad range of must-see filmic interpretations of Shakespeare’s work and special events featuring leading cinematic lights.
From a Q&A with Kenneth Branagh beamed live to 70+ cinemas across the country from Belfast’s Queen’s Film Theatre, to spectacular screenings in castles, and silent films set to bold new scores from leading contemporary artists, BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film promises a series of big screen revelations that will enthral and entertain everyone from dyed-in-the-wool bard aficionados to casual cinemagoers keen for a fresh new filmic experience. The programme will also contain a dedicated youth focus, including an ‘in conversation’ session with Kenneth Branagh and Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, that will be filmed and used as an educational resource and BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film elements incorporated as part of this year’s Into Film Festival in November.
Kenneth Branagh, director, actor and patron of Film London’s own Shakespeare on Screen initiative, said:
“It’s a real privilege to be returning with Henry V – the first Shakespeare feature I directed, to the Queen’s Film Theatre in my home city, as part of this wonderful celebration of Shakespeare’s life, work and legacy on screen. The fact that Film London has organised the event to be beamed live to cinemas across the UK is particularly exciting.”
Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said:
“Shakespeare might have been a man of the theatre but his work offers endless possibilities to film-makers. Somehow the power of his stories, characters, his all too human resonant and relevant themes of power, politics, family, romance, tragic conflict and joyous comedy, manages to transcend barriers of time and the English language such that specific cultural settings can be interpreted by filmmaking artists, in all different kinds of locations, contexts and languages. I am hugely grateful to the BFI and FAN for working in partnership with Film London to deliver this wealth of Shakespeare programming and activity around the whole of the UK.”
Ben Luxford, BFI Head of UK Audiences, said:
“Shakespeare’s work is arguably at its most accessible through film, and the BFI Film Audience Network exists to make great cinema available to all – we’re pleased to support this range of fantastic events that promise to bring the very best cinematic interpretations of Shakespeare’s work to audiences right across the UK.”
Highlights from the BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film programme
- Across the UK: Henry V screening + Kenneth Branagh Q&A (Broadcast live to Cinemas). Taking place at Belfast’s Queen’s Film Theatre, the Q&A and film will be beamed live to 70+ cinemas across the UK. (Film London in partnership with Queen’s Film Theatre, supported by Pinewood Studios in association with Park Circus). This event forms part of Film London’s international Shakespeare on Screen programme. Preceding the event, through his role as Into Film Northern Ireland Ambassador, Kenneth will also take part in a special educational event for young audiences in partnership with Into Film, which is supported by the BFI through Lottery funding.
- At multiple UK venues: Live Cinema UK presents Shakespeare Re:Scored, wherein renowned contemporary artists provide specially-commissioned scores to Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Film, a new compilation from the BFI National Archive. (Film Hub North).
- Glasgow: An exploration of ‘the Scottish play’ courtesy of Glasgow Film Theatre, with a series of outdoor screenings showcasing, amongst others, the Shakespeare interpretations of Roman Polanski and Orson Welles (Film Hub Scotland).
- Wales: Chapter partner with the British Council for family-friendly screenings, cult selections and discussions with academics and experts to examine Shakespeare’s relationship with Wales, while Pontio offer a unique one-off cinematic experience of Macbeth (1964) in Welsh from the BBC archive. (Film Hub Wales).
- Birmingham: A sideways look at the bard as part of the tenth Flatpack Film Festival, incorporating spoken-word, animation and artists’ film (Film Hub South West & West Midlands).
- Nottingham: A selection of must-see cinematic classics at Broadway Cinema, Nottingham (Film Hub Central East).
- Sheffield: Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema presents a specially curated season of the finest Shakespeare on film, including an adult education programme (Film Hub North).
- Lancashire: Aunty Social CIC’s incorporation of a filmic strand into the popular Fylde Coast Shakespeare Festival, which sees Shakespearian events taking place across the region in venues that range from piers to pubs (Film Hub North West Central).
- Berkshire: South Hill Park’s Shakespeare Un/Told, which offers a week-long programme of multimedia events exploring the playwright’s work and legacy (Film Hub South East).
- London: Shakespeare’s Sister, an exploration of gender – both behind and in front of the camera – courtesy of Curzon. This discussion will include filmmakers, academics and the brains behind the Bechdel Test Fest (Film Hub London).
BFI FAN spans the length and breadth of the UK and connects cinemas, film archives, education organisations, community groups and others, to bring a wide range of films to audiences and help build interest in British independent and specialised film. BFI FAN members have fully embraced BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film, creating a spectacular programme that promises to bring the bard’s cinematic interpretations to UK audiences in bold, brave and exciting ways.