Monday, 4th May 2015
Author Michael Morpurgo is joined by actress Alison Reid, violinist Daniel Pioro and The Storyteller’s Ensemble (a quartet of strings). Together they interweave words and music, to tell his haunting tale of survival against the odds, set against the background of the Holocaust. Adapted and directed by Simon Reade.
‘It is difficult for us to imagine how dreadful was the suffering that went on in the Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. The enormity of the crime that the Nazis committed is just too overwhelming for us to comprehend. In their attempt to wipe out an entire race they caused the death of six million people, most of them Jews. It is when you hear the stories of the individuals who lived through it – Anne Frank, Primo Levi – that you can begin to understand the horror just a little better, and to understand the evil that caused it.
‘For me, the most haunting image does not come from literature or film, but from music. I learned some time ago that in many of the camps the Nazis selected Jewish prisoners and forced them to play in orchestras; for the musicians it was simply a way to survive. In order to calm the new arrivals at the camps, they were made to serenade them as they were lined up and marched off, many to the gas chambers. Often they played Mozart.
‘I wondered how it must have been for a musician who played in such hellish circumstances, who adored Mozart as I do – what thoughts came when playing Mozart later in life? This was the genesis of my story, this and the sight of a small boy in a square by the Accademia Bridge in Venice, sitting one night, in his pyjamas on his tricycle, listening to a busker. He sat totally enthralled by the music that seemed to him, and to me, to be heavenly.’
Find out more at www.hayfestival.com
Friday, 24th April 2015
Concept artwork courtesy of the filmmakers. View more images at cartoonbrew.com
Filmmakers Kirk Hendry and Neil Boyle have revealed pre-production concept paintings for their upcoming animated feature Kensuke’s Kingdom. The images were provided exclusively to Cartoon Brew.
Based on the bestselling novel by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and adapted for the screen by screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions, Hilary and Jackie, 24 Hour Party People), Kensuke’s Kingdom is about a ten-year-old boy who washes up on a tropical island, where he discovers he is an intruder in the domain of a mysterious Japanese soldier named Kensuke.
The action/adventure film is being developed by producers Sarah Radclyffe and Barnaby Spurrier.
Hendry and Boyle will use a combination of 2D and 3D animation techniques. The duo have recently participated, as art director and lead animator respectively, in major collaborations with Triplets of Belleville director Sylvain Chomet: a music video for Belgian pop star Stromae and a 2014 Simpsons opening.
The production paintings were developed in collaboration with the visual development team at Framestore, who have previously worked on Paddington, Gravity, and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Morpugo’s War Horse. The team was headed by Kevin Jenkins, who is currently an art director on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“Neil and I did some simple sketches of the scenes we wanted to portray, with some basic blocking, suggestions for time of day, etc, for lighting ideas, and let Framestore’s visual development team run with it,”
Hendry told Cartoon Brew via email.
“Framestore have some of the best people in the world for visual development. Although we are currently developing the final look of Kensuke’s Kingdom using a box of tricks including hand-drawn characters, miniature landscapes, matte painting, and CG environment effects to tie it all together, the concept paintings give us, the whole production team, and potential financiers a really good taste of the sense of scale, adventure, fun and drama we want to achieve bringing this much-loved book to the big screen.”
Hendry and Boyle are currently creating a fully animated test sequence, with production on the film expected to begin in early 2016.
Thursday, 16th April 2015
The English Association has revealed the 16 books shortlisted for the 2015 English 4-11 Best Picture Book Awards, including Half a Man written by Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan.
This recently published Picture Book is a poignant tale of the physical and mental scars of war. From a young age, Michael was both fascinated by and afraid of his grandfather. Grandpa’s ship was torpedoed during the Second World War, leaving him with terrible burns. Every time he came to stay, Michael was warned by his mother that he must not stare; must not make too much noise; must not ask Grandpa about his past. As he grows older, Michael stays with his grandfather during the summer holidays, and as he finally learns the story behind Grandpa’s injuries, he gets to know the real man behind the solemn figure from his childhood. Michael can see beyond the burns, and this gives him the power to begin healing some of the scars that have divided his family for so long.
The English 4-11 Picture Book Awards are presented annually by the English Association to the best picture book of the previous year, in each of four categories: Fiction 4-7 yrs and 7-11 yrs, and Non-Fiction 4-7 yrs and 7-11 yrs. The winning books are chosen by the editorial board of English 4-11 from a shortlist selected by a panel of teachers and primary specialists.
The winners will be announced on 13th May 2015
Thursday, 2nd April 2015
I am at home today and this is my favourite time of year, when Clare and I can go for walks in the countryside around our home and see the fields and hedges coming to life after the winter, looking in the puddles for the first frog spawn. In the evenings I make bread and last week Clare and I made 20 jars of delicious dark marmalade! This is when I get my writing done. I have just finished my new novel. I have enjoyed writing it and I hope you will enjoy reading it. It’s called An Eagle in the Snow and it comes out in the autumn.