Time to look at what TV the BFI is showing in March. With the LGBT Film Festival taking over the South Bank between 17 and 27 March, there’s slim pickings, to be honest, but as well as a short season of Frank Cvitanovich documentaries, you can also look forward to previews of Julian Fellowes’ adaptation of Trollope’s Doctor Thorne and the six-part drama The A-Word, the word in question being autism.
Who’s Frank Cvitanovich? He was a Canadian documentary maker who did lots of work for Thames TV, that’s who. In particular, he made this one about Barry Sheene. You can’t watch it at the BFI, though. Soz.
Wednesday 2 March
TV Preview: Doctor Thorne + Q&A with Tom Hollander, executive producer Mark Redhead and producer Helen Gregory
2016 ITV-Hat Trick Productions. Dir Niall MacCormick. With Tom Hollander, Rebecca Front, Ian McShane, Stefanie Martini. Ep1 52min
Academy award-winning writer Julian Fellowes adapts one of his favourite novels by Anthony Trollope. Dr Thomas Thorne (Hollander) lives in the village of Greshamsbury with his beautiful but penniless niece Mary (Martini). When the terrifying Lady Arabella Gresham (Front) discovers that her darling son Frank has fallen in love with Mary she’s horrified – it’s his duty to make a rich marriage to save the family estate and pay off their debts to railway magnate Sir Roger Scatcherd (McShane). Join us as we screen the start of this major new three-part drama, and hear from the show’s stars and producers.
Friday 4 March
The Road to Wigan Pier (A Musical Documentary)
Thames TV 1973. Dir Frank Cvitanovich. With Bob Davenport and the Morriston Orpheus Choir. 50min
Cvitanovich skilfully combines a potent mix of archive footage and stills with folk songs of the mining community to create a rich aural and visual tapestry to George Orwell’s superb prose. Themes such as the dignity of work, the curse of class distinction and the difficulty of reaching a socialist utopia are explored in Orwell’s book – and brought to life on screen by Cvitanovich’s intuitive eye for capturing atmosphere and detail.
Thames TV 1972. Dir Frank Cvitanovich. 52min
This Emmy award-winning, very personal film charts the progress of Cvitanovich’s own child Bunny, who was born with severe brain damage and until the age of three was unresponsive to any stimuli. Taken to the Institute of Human Potential in Philadelphia, Bunny made great progress on a controversial programme of therapy. This is an intimate and honest account of a family coping with a difficult situation, and in the process inspiring hope for others.
Thursday 10 March
Beauty, Bonny, Daisy, Violet, Grace and Geoffrey Morton
Thames TV 1974. Dir Frank Cvitanovich. 52min
This sensitive and moving film won a BAFTA and the Prix Italia award. In it, we follow Geoffrey Morton’s way of life as he continues to use shire horses on his Yorkshire farm with an infectious passion for sustainable farming methods. Morton’s rapport with these magnificent animals gives the film immense charm, and Cvitanovich skilfully paces events to culminate in the miracle that is the birth of a new foal.
+ The Films of Frank Cvitanovich: Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Derek Granger, Molly Dineen and Janet Street-Porter in Conversation
Sir Jeremy Isaacs commissioned many of Cvitanovich’s most memorable films in his time as Director of Programmes at Thames Television. He’s joined on stage by producer Derek Granger, documentary filmmaker Molly Dineen and journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter to discuss Cvitanovich’s legacy alongside specially selected clips.
Tuesday 15 March
TV Preview: The A Word + Q&A with writer Peter Bowker, director Peter Cattaneo and cast tbc
BBC-Fifty Fathoms-Keshet UK-2015. Dir (eps1-3) Peter Cattaneo. With Christopher Eccleston, Morven Christie, Lee Ingleby. Ep1 60min
Join us for a preview of episode one of a new six-part drama about parenthood, disability, community and family, from the pen of award-winning writer Peter Bowker (Blackpool, Marvellous). Funny, audacious, raw and innovative, The A Word stars Morven Christie and Lee Ingleby as Alison and Paul, a couple building a life in the Lake District for themselves and their children, teenage daughter Rebecca and five-year-old Joe (Max Vento) – with a little unwelcome help from Alison’s Dad (and self-styled patriarch) Maurice (Eccleston). When Alison’s brother and his wife return to the family home to rebuild their broken marriage it’s they who acknowledge that Joe has autism, and tension builds as everyone struggles to really communicate.
See bfi.org.uk for updates on guests
Champions’ priority booking: February 1 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: February 2 11.30am
Public booking opens: February 9 11.30am
Prices (excluding gift aid)
£6.85 (member concs)
£8.35 (non-members concs)
Under 16s £6.00
Prices (including gift aid and voluntary contribution)
£7.55 (member concs)
£9.20 (non-members concs)
Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Conc prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.
As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.