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Shakespeare Lives in Film's 2016 tour reaches its halfway point

  • Romeo and Juliet

Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet is our most popular booking

As our Shakespeare Lives in Film tour reaches around the globe, 70 countries have made more than 500 bookings to date, with Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet the most popular film so far.

Our hugely ambitious Shakespeare Lives in Film tour, celebrating the 400th anniverary of the Bard, has reached its halfway point with more than 500 bookings to date.

British Council Film is working with the British Film Institute, Film London and other partners to deliver a touring package, aimed at revealing how British cinema has transformed and reimagined Shakespeare's work.

To date this year, 70 countries have made 532 bookings for the programme, with the 4k restoration of Franco Zeffirelli's lushly romantic Romeo and Juliet (1968) currently the most popular film with 63 bookings.

Roman Polanski's Macbeth (1971), Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Richard Loncraine's Richard III (1995) and Maxine Peake's groundbreaking Hamlet are also among the most popular titles.

British Council is also working closely with NT Live to present filmed theatre in countries for the first time, while some bold new short films from Film London are about to be added to the line-up.

June highlights

After casting a spell in China and India, Russia marked the final stop for Sir Ian McKellen on his international tour as Shakespeare Lives in Film ambassador.

McKellen travelled with the British Embassy and the British Council to launch the Midsummer Nights Festival, where he presented his solo Shakespeare-inspired show, Stage, Screen and Elsewhere.

He also introduced Richard III to audiences in Moscow, Ekaterinburg and St Petersburg, as well as travelling on a Shakespeare-themed Metro train and having a near encounter with President Putin, to the delight of the Russian media.

The six-day festival also showed a retrospective of British Shakespeare films, including Leonard Whiting on stage with curator Ian Haydn Smith to speak about his experience of working with Zeffirelli on Romeo and Juliet. There were also lectures from Shakespeare experts such as Jerry Brotton, Daniel Rosenthal and Amber Butchart.

Russia wasn't the only country marking Midsummer though, as British Council Italy hosted Whiting in Verona and Caserta, along a screening of Romeo and Juliet at the tomb of Juliet. There was also a series of screenings of the UK-Italian co-production across Italy to celebrate the strong cultural ties between Shakespeare's work and Italy.

July highlights

The Shakespeare Lives in Film tour already has some exciting events planned for this month, with British Council Brazil presenting the Shakespeare House at FLIP Paraty literary festival among them.

British Council Ukraine is working with Odessa International Film Festival to host screenings including Romeo and Juliet, while New Horizons in Poland and Golden Apricot Film Festival (working with British Countil Armenia) will both present a Shakespeare on Film sidebar.

ACMI in Melbourne will screen the likes of Vincent Price's Theatre of Blood (1973), Branagh's Henry V (1989) and Richard III as part of a Shakespeare on Film programme from July 14-26.

Also in July and August, Greece continues its series of Shakespeare screenings, many in striking outdoor locations such as Laurence Olivier's Henry V (1944) taking place alongside the Acropolis

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