See Dickens on Film from Albania to Zimbabwe
Carol Reed's Oliver! heading out on tour now
As his 200th birthday finally arrives, the world is showing a huge appetite for all things Dickens - not least in the enthusiastic response to our international tour of over 20 film and TV adaptations of the classic novels.
From the multi Oscar®-winning Oliver! to the BBC hit series Bleak House, filmmakers and TV producers have consistently turned to Dickens’ immortal stories to adapt for the screen. His highly visual narrative style inspired early film-makers and many have credited the author with providing the very DNA that cinematic language is based upon. The oldest surviving film versions of works by Dickens include an adaptation David Copperfield from 1913 of which only a tantilizing fragment remains, and over a hundred years’ later Dickens’ works are still being filmed for cinema and TV to the extent that every one of his 15 novels has been filmed at least twice.
Dickens on Film - the largest retrospective ever staged of film and television works based on, or inspired by, Charles Dickens, is premiering at London’s BFI Southbank this month, and we're mid way through sending a touring programme of highlights from the programme, out and about with help from a range of international partners.
We've already seen audiences in China, Malta, the Philippines and Germany turning out for a diverse selection of screenings before Christmas. This week, as the full force of anniversary celebrations kick in, we're enjoying watching our colleagues take the programme and run with it. In Albania our guest journalist, Ian Haydn Smith, will be heading out to put Nicholas Nickleby in context at venues across Tirana; high school and university student audiences in Italy and Bangladesh will see a menu of Dickens on film; while in Kuwait, audiences attending a screening of Oliver Twist will be fed with a gruel supper. No, really.
The whole tour will take in over 30 countries from Armenia to Zimbabwe - and it's just part of a massive Dickens fest that's making its way across the globe, much of it organised by British Council's Literature team. Have a look at the scope of events here.
Finally, aside of the delight we're feeling at how broadly the programme is being embraced internationally, here at BC Film we're allowing ourselves a little bit of pride as one of our own team members - Film Adviser, Gary Thomas - has his own Dickens connection. Commissioned to make one of three new short films produced through Film London’s Dickens 2012 Short Film Scheme, which aims to inspire both emerging and established film-makers to create new, distinctive and original short films based on the life and/or work of Charles Dickens. Gary's film premiered at BFI Southbank's Birthday celebrations on 7 February - before being screened to international audiences.
Happy Birthday Mr Dickens!