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As the world celebrates Shakespeare 400 years after his death, Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) will collaborate with the British Film Institute (BFI) and the British Council, presenting “SHAKESPEARE ON FILM – Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary Film Screenings” in June 2016.

In 1899 not long after cinema was born, Shakespeare’s works were first presented on film, the first film was King John (1899).  Nearly 500 silent Shakespeare films were made and the BFI is releasing a new film Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema that showcases the best of them. Since then there have been countless adaptations of Shakespeare’s work on film, lots of them are masterpieces in film history.

Shakespeare’s theatrical works are undoubtedly cultural classics that have been shared to the world through the medium of film—perhaps the most influential cultural medium since the 20th century.  Filmmakers constantly use Shakespeare’s stories, scenes, figures and dialogues to set immediate or eternal questions either to the most intimate emotional desires of individuals or to the ambitious thrust of human destiny.

The “SHAKESPEARE ON FILM” screening program is a collection of classic British adaptations of Shakespeare’s works on the big screen that spans over the past 100 years.  Audiences will not only enjoy the never faded charm of Shakespeare’s drama, but also the unique interpretations by generations of film masters, and most importantly, the great actors / actresses who dazzle in Shakespeare's world.

As one of BFI and BC official partners, SIFF will also honorably invite Sir Ian McKellen -- the greatest Shakespearean actor since Lawrence Olivier -- to Shanghai to share his experience of performing in Shakespeare’s stage productions and films. Award-winning actor and writer Ian McKellen, best known for playing ‘Gandalf’ in The Lord of the Rings films, will attend the Shanghai International Film Festival’s Opening Night on June 11th and take part in a special on stage event to discuss his film Richard III (1995), co-adapted and starring McKellen in the title role and directed and co-adapted by Richard Loncraine, on June 12th.  Ian’s illustrious career spans six decades and he has been performing Shakespeare on stage and screen for the majority of it: from breakthrough performances as Henry V and Edward II at the Edinburgh Festival (1969) to the title role in Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed production of Macbeth with Judi Dench in 1976 and the opening ceremony of the London Paraylmpics (2012) when he portrayed Prospero from The Tempest.

As part on stage lecture, our great friend, Mr. Robin Baker, Head Curator of British Film Institute, will talk about the history of Shakespeare film adaptation for Shanghai audiences.