The Eyes of Orson Welles, a new documentary by Mark Cousinsrevealing a fresh insight into the life and art of Orson Welles, will have its world premiere in official selection at the 71thCannes Film Festival (May 8-19).
Directed, written, filmed and narrated by Cousins, the film is based upon unprecedented and exclusive access to a lifetime of private drawings and paintings by Welles, most never before made public.
Executive produced by Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine), The Eyes of Orson Welles uses these artworks to bring vividly to life the passions, politics and power of Welles, and explores how his genius still resonates today in the age of Trump.
The Eyes of Orson Welles will screen in Cannes Classics on Wednesday 9 May.
The Eyes of Orson Welles is produced by Mary Bell and Adam Dawtrey for Bofa Productions, in association with BBC Arts and Filmstruck, supported by the National Lottery via Creative Scotland’s Screen Fund. Executive producers are Mark Bell, Mark Thomas and Michael Moore.
About the film
As a child prodigy, Welles trained first as a graphic artist before finding fame at a spectacularly young age as an actor and director – on radio, on stage and in the cinema. Films such as Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil and Chimes of Midnight made him one of the most celebrated creative icons of the 20th century.
Welles continued to draw and paint throughout his life. It was his reflex way of responding to the world. When he died over 30 years ago, he left behind hundreds of character sketches, set designs, visualisations of unmade projects, illustrations to entertain his children and friends, doodles in the margins of personal letters, and portraits of the people and places that he loved. Most have been locked away since his death.
Now, for the first time, his daughter Beatrice Welles has granted Cousins the exclusive right to make a film using her father’s artworks. They are a sketchbook of his life, a window into his world, and a vivid illustration of his creativity and visual thinking. Cousins reveals how Welles’ graphic imagination offers a new way of understanding his ground-breaking work in the theatre and on film.
Beatrice Welles also appears in the film to offer her personal insight into her father and his artworks.
Mark Bell, the BBC’s Commissioning Editor for Arts, said: “Mark Cousins’ film captures a mercurial genius in flight. It is a brilliantly personable, personal journey into the mind of a complex fugitive figure – Welles remains playful, larger than life yet often curiously elusive. By the end I feel I know him better.”
Mark Thomas, Screen Officer at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted that Mark Cousins’ feature documentary The Eyes of Orson Welles will receive its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Cannes is a fitting platform to present a compelling new story of one of cinema’s greatest icons. We are proud to have supported this latest work from Mark, a unique filmmaker and celebrated cineaste, and we wish everyone involved with the film the very best for the premiere.”
About Mark Cousins
Mark Cousins is a Northern Irish filmmaker and writer based in Edinburgh. His work as a director includes The Story of Film: An Odyssey, a 15-hour epic which won a Peabody Award and the Stanley Kubrick Award; A Story of Children and Film, a feature documentary which also world premiered in Cannes; I Am Belfast, a lyrical essay film about his home town; and his fiction debut Stockholm My Love, a grief musical starring and with music by Neneh Cherry. His latest book The Story of Looking was published in the UK last year by Canongate
About Bofa Productions
Bofa Productions, based in Bridge of Allan, Scotland, is a partnership between Mary Bell, former deputy managing director of Hat Trick Productions, and Adam Dawtrey, former European Editor of Variety. Its feature film credits include A Story of Children and Film, Antonia Bird: From EastEnders to Hollywood and Stockholm My Love.
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