Thursday, March 22, 2012


British Council and Abu Dhabi Film Festival Partnership Brings ‘Dickens on Film’ to UAE Audiences

UK Country Focus at 2012 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

22 March, 2012 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates): British Council is touring the largest retrospective ever staged of film and TV works based on or inspired by Charles Dickens, after premiering at London’s BFI Southbank in January 2012.

In partnership with Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), British Council is bringing ‘Dickens on Film’ to audiences in the UAE. From 27 March to 2 April, ten films will be screening at VOX Cinemas – Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, to coincide with the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2012 at which the UK is Country of Focus. The programme includes a wide variety of the adaptations of classics from the greatest writer in the history of English literature, Charles Dickens, such as David Copperfield, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

“This year marks the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth, and Charles Dickens has long been an inspiration for filmmakers, TV producers, and artists alike. Through this collaboration with ADFF, around ADIBF, and with such a burgeoning arts, culture and literature scene in the UAE, we expect the ‘Dickens on Film’ programme to be welcomed with enthusiasm by the local and expatriate communities in the UAE,” said Michel Bechara, Head of Projects, of British Council in the UAE.

From the multi Oscar®-winning Oliver! to the BBC hit series Bleak House, filmmakers and TV producers have consistently turned to Dickens’ immortal stories to adapt for the screen. His highly visual narrative style inspired early film-makers and many have credited the author with providing the very DNA that cinematic language is based upon. The oldest surviving film versions of works by Dickens include an adaptation of David Copperfield from 1913 of which only a tantalizing fragment remains, and over a hundred years later Dickens’ works are still being filmed for cinema and TV to the extent that every one of his 15 novels has been filmed at least twice.

“The screening programme in the UAE will be a unique opportunity to see a great variety of some of those adaptations including the first silent one, dated almost 100 years back – David Copperfield, 1913, by Thomas Bentley – and which now exists only as a fragment, recently restored by the British Film Institute, and whose screening will be accompanied by a live reading of excerpts from the Dickens novel,” Bechara added.

“Not only does this wonderful series present a selection of skilled adaptations of literature to film, but it offers a chance to see some outstanding performances by British screen stars such as Dirk Bogarde, Joyce Grenfell, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, John Mills, Alastair Sim and Jean Simmons. Not to mention Toronto-born Christopher Plummer, who received his long-overdue first Oscar just a few weeks ago, and two icons of the silent era, Lon Chaney and Jackie Coogan, who star in the greatest rarity of the series, Frank Lloyd’s recently rediscovered 1922 silent version of Oliver Twist,” commented ADFF Executive Director Peter Scarlet.

The ‘Dickens on Film’ programme will be screening at VOX Cinemas – Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, from 27 March to 2 April 2012. Dickens enthusiasts can catch any of the screenings free of charge, and need only book their seats online at


About the British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. We work in over 100 countries in the arts, education and English and in 2010/11 we engaged face to face with 30 million people and reached 578 million. For more information please visit

About Dickens 2012
Dickens 2012 is an international celebration of the cultural and educational significance of the life and work of Charles Dickens to mark the bicentenary of his birth. Dickens-related activity will take place all over the world under the Dickens 2012 banner to celebrate one of the world’s most inspiring authors and provide a legacy for future generations. Dickens 2012 has an expanding list of supporters, which includes names such as Simon Callow CBE, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Peter Ackroyd CBE, and is backed by the Mayor of London as a cultural highlight in 2012. Dickens 2012 is co-ordinated by the Charles Dickens Museum and Film London in association with the Dickens Fellowship.

About the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair
The 22nd Abu Dhabi International Book Fair will take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from the 28 March – 2 April 2012. ADIBF is modelled on international best practice and attracts world class talent each year. ADIBF seamlessly combines business-to-business opportunities for the publishing industry with a rich and diverse cultural consumer programme.

About the Abu Dhabi Film Festival
The Abu Dhabi Film Festival was established in 2007 with the aim of helping to create a vibrant film culture throughout the region. Presented each October, the event is committed to curating exceptional programs to engage and educate the local community, inspire filmmakers and nurture the growth of the regional film industry.