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Martin Scorsese to narrate documentary about British filmmaking duo Powell and Pressburger


- David Hinton’s doc is being financed by BBC Film, the National Lottery and the Scottish government, through Screen Scotland; Altitude handles international sales

Martin Scorsese to narrate documentary about British filmmaking duo Powell and Pressburger
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger on the set of The Red Shoes

A new documentary will see BAFTA- and Academy Award-winning director and acclaimed cineaste Martin Scorsese describe his relationship to iconic British filmmaking duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

In Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger [+see also:
film review
film profile
, Scorsese will describe how, from a young age, he was captivated by their films, how they helped shape his own filmmaking and how a later friendship with Powell left an indelible mark on his own life. Brought to life with a treasure trove of rare archive material from the personal collections of Powell, Pressburger and Scorsese, the story will be told using diaries, audio recordings, home movies, personal snapshots and, of course, the films themselves.

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Powell and Pressburger and those who worked with them describe how their unique working relationship created a body of work that audiences still marvel at today. Powell and Pressburger created some of the great classics of the British golden age, including The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.

In the words of Scorsese, their films were “grand, poetic, wise, adventurous, headstrong, enraptured by beauty, deeply romantic and completely uncompromising”. The as-yet untitled film will be an unparalleled exploration of their genius. Scorsese adds, “I still find it extraordinary that I knew Michael Powell personally for 16 years – and, throughout that time, he was not only a support, but also a guide, pushing me along, giving me confidence, keeping me bold in my own work. I've seen the films that he made with Emeric over and over again, but the experience of excitement and mystery that I get from them doesn't just remain; it deepens. I don't know how it happens, but for me, their body of work is a wondrous presence, a constant source of energy, and a reminder of what life and art are all about.”

Helmed by two-time BAFTA- and Emmy-winning director David Hinton, the film is being produced by Nick Varley for Ten Thousand 86 (UK) and Matt Wells for Ice Cream Films. It is being financed by BBC Film, as well as the National Lottery and the Scottish government, through Screen Scotland. The executive producers for the BBC are Rose Garnett and Mark Bell, while Mark Thomas will executive-produce for Screen Scotland. Will Clarke will executive-produce for Altitude (UK). Furthermore, Altitude is handling the international sales and will release the film in the UK and Ireland.

“It’s fantastic to be able to support such a prestigious feature-length documentary from one of screen’s master storytellers,” says Screen Scotland’s Mark Thomas. “We wish Nick, Matt, David and the team well with what will be a definitive insight into a rich story of cinematic history. Creating work with such iconic names as Scorsese, Powell and Pressburger demonstrates the high level of ambition and excellence of Scotland’s documentary sector.”

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