Sir Ian McKellen to visit India with ‘Shakespeare Lives on Film’

Shakespeare’s legacy across theatre and film has been unparalleled. It has transcended borders and has been adapted, represented and celebrated globally. 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. To mark the occasion, the world will pay tribute to the greatest playwright of all time.

‘Shakespeare Lives’ a global programme launched by the British Council and GREAT Britain Campaign will celebrate Shakespeare’s works and his influence on culture, education and society. As a part of this programme, the BFI (British Film Institute) has curated a special international touring programme of British Shakespeare adaptations, spearheaded by world famous actor, Ian McKellen. Celebrating the iconic playwright’s legacy in film, the ‘Shakespeare Lives on Film’ programme explores on an epic scale how filmmakers have adapted, been inspired by and interpreted Shakespeare’s work for the big screen. The selection includes 18classic British Films that will travel to 110 countries across the world with the British Council. Over a period of a year, 11 of these titles will be screened across the 9 British Council Centres in India. Mumbai is the first stop on Ian McKellen’s global tour as the BFI’s ambassador for ‘Shakespeare Lives on Film’. As part of the international tour, Ian will be presenting Richard III (1995, dir. Richard Loncraine) the film he co-adapted for the big screen and starred in,which is currently enjoying great critical acclaim in the UK due to its re-release on DVD and at BFI Southbank as part of its season ‘BFI Presents: Shakespeare on Film’.

MAMI Film Club is partneringwith the British Council, the BFI, GREAT, NCPA and Fountainhead MKTG to bring Ian McKellen and the incredible ‘Shakespeare Lives on Film’ programme to India. Ian McKellen’s first stop will be a public conversation with a undisclosed Indian superstarscheduled on Monday 23 and will mark the debut outing of MAMI Film Club, which will soon roll out an exciting year-round programme of activities for the denizens of Mumbai. In its seventeen-year history, Mumbai Academy of Moving Image will, for the first time, be opening its doors for a year-long engagement with its patrons. Tuesday 24 May will see the launch of the ‘Shakespeare Lives On Film’ screenings with an exclusive screening of McKellen’s Richard III, introduced by its star.

Ms. Kiran Rao, Chairperson, MAMI feels, “I am a great admirer of Sir Ian’s work, and it is an honour for the Jio MAMI Film Club to be able to partner in this master class. Shakespeare has seen rich and varied interpretations in cinema over the years. This is a chance for film lovers to hear one of the most iconic actors of Shakespeare speak in our city. We could not have asked for a better launch for our Film Club!”

In addition, on Wednesday 25 May Ian will be the guest of honour at the launch of the 7th Kashish Mumbai International Queer Festival  at Liberty Cinema. On Thursday 26 May he will host a schools education event at BD Somani International School and be the guest of honour at the Queen’s Birthday Party, organised by the British High Commission.

Sharon Memis, Director West India British Council said “It is wonderful to work with the BFI, MAMI, to celebrate the ever contemporary William Shakespeare with one of our finest actors, internationally renowned and award winning theatre and film actor, Ian McKellen.  Shakespeare’s stories are universal; they transcend cultures, society and time. The many translations and adaptations of his work across the world are a tribute to Shakespeare’s enduring relevance and appeal. We are thrilled that Ian McKellen’s first visit to Mumbai will be to launch Shakespeare Lives On Film!”

Ian McKellen has been awarded over 6o international acting awards for his half century on stage and screen. He has appeared in more than half of Shakespeare’s plays all over the world.On film he has starred in Gods and Monsters, as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, as Magneto in the X-Men movies, and most recently as Sherlock in Mr Holmes.

Ian McKellen said “I have been aware of Indias’s passion for Shakespeare ever since I saw Shakespeare Wallah (1965) and more recently the outstanding Bollywood versions of the plays. This is my first visit to Mumbai when I look forward to hearing local reaction to the Shakespeare on Film season and to meeting with colleagues in theIndian  film industry”.

BFI Head Curator, Robin Baker said “No writer has had greater impact on cinema – or inspired more films – than Shakespeare. At the latest count, IMDb lists Shakespeare as the ‘writer’ of 1120 titles. For me the best adaptations of Shakespeare are those that have taken his themes, situations, characters or language and presented them in ways that are purely cinematic: from the thrilling re-imagining of Loncraine’s Richard III to the intimacy of the close-ups used in the love scenes of Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet and bleakly stunning landscapes of Polanski’s Macbeth. Film and TV makes Shakespeare’s work more accessible than any other medium and the BFI National Archive looks after the world’s largest collection of film adaptations of his work, so I’m delighted that so many of the British adaptations are going to be shared with audiences in Mumbai in this year-long celebration MAMI are staging and who better to present these films to audiences around the world than one of Britain’s finest Shakespearian actors, Ian McKellen.”

Mr. Khusroo Suntook, Chairman NCPA said “We are delighted to welcome Sir Ian McKellen to the NCPA Mumbai. His dazzling performances are legendary and we are privileged to host him in our theatres. We eagerly look forward to his talk and the screening of his film.”

Ms. Anupama Chopra, Director, MAMI said “We are very honoured to launch the club with a conversation with the iconic Ian McKellen. We are also thrilled to partner with the British Council and British Film Institute, Fountainhead and GREAT to celebrate Shakespeare on film.”

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