THE Shakespeare on Film Festival, which is being produced by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in partnership with Stratford Picturehouse and has film director and actor Kenneth Branagh as its patron, opens on Friday 4th October.
It will feature a string of iconic films and adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Imagineer production of Hamlet starring David Tennant, Baz Luhrmann’s iconic Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and children’s favourite Gnomeo and Juliet.
Then there's Leonard Bernstein’s 1960s classic interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, as well as the wonderful contemporary take on The Taming of the Shrew – 10 Things I Hate About You, featuring Julia Stiles as the shrew, Kat Stratford, playing opposite the late Heath Ledger in one of his earliest film roles.
The festival also includes the documentary film A Summer Hamlet directed by Warwickshire’s Helen Lawson and starring Warwickshire actor and Playbox graduate Josh McGuire.
The film follows the Shakespeare’s Globe company and their director Dominic Dromgoole (artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe) as they tour a small-scale production of Hamlet from opening night at the Theatre Royal, Margate to their final performance at Elsinore Castle, Denmark.
It offers a rare behind-the-scenes insight into rehearsal room mayhem, pre-show high jinks and backstage nerves, as the company battles with the elements and a temperamental Ford Escort.
The Shakespeare on Film Festival will also screen the winning entry of the first Shakespeare Shorts Film Competition, launched by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust last year to help champion new and emerging talent.
The competition invited film-makers of all ages to produce a Shakespeare-related film using any form of technology from a smart phone to camera equipment and attracted 44 entries from around the world.
Films were either a performance of Shakespeare or an interpretation of his work.
The competition was in partnership with entrepreneurial online group Misfit Inc which donated its time and expertise. The winning film is set to be announced at a special awards evening on 25th October, where the winner will see their short film screened and win £2,400.
Judges include director Rupert Goold who has just finished filming True Story with American star James Franco, actress Kate Fleetwood who featured in this year’s Oscar hit Les Miserables, Sydney based award-winning film-maker Jason Wingrove, AJ and Melissa Leon of Misfit Inc and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Marion Morgan who organised the Shakespeare on Film Festival and competition.
Marion Morgan, event officer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We have had a fantastic response to the first Shakespeare Shorts Film Competition where not only some amazing local talent has applied, but also a whole host of film-makers from across the world including Yugoslavia, Australia and America.
“We have managed to capture the imaginations of budding film-makers on a global scale and it shows how we can bring the works of Shakespeare to a whole new audience using film.”
She added: “With last year’s Shakespeare on Film Festival being such a success we have worked closely with our festival partners at the Picturehouse cinema to develop a broader range of films for audiences of all ages.
This year’s festival will include screenings for schools alongside a line-up of exciting films with pre-screening discussions featuring experts from the world of film, acting and academia.”
Prescreening discussions include a talk with Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Gregory Doran and Illuminations producer John Wyver prior to the screening of Hamlet on Wednesday 23rd October.
For more information see the what’s on page at www.shakespeare.org.uk
Tickets are available online at Stratford Picturehouse at www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Stratford_Upon_Avon or by calling the box office on 08719 025 741.
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