Join Michael Morpurgo at this year’s Hay Festival

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.’

Michael Morpurgo.

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Concept Art Revealed for Feature Film ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ (Exclusive)

Concept artwork courtesy of the filmmakers. View more images at

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.

Boyle said:

“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.