Imperial War Museums and 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary, have commissioned filmmaker Peter Jackson to create a new film about the First World War.

The The Lord of the Rings director’s film has been created exclusively with original, archive footage from the Imperial War Museums’ film archive and audio from the BBC archives.

The film will be broadcast on BBC One following a UK-wide premiere as part of the BFI London Film Festival in 2018. The BBC will accompany the film with a ‘making-of’ documentary with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with Peter Jackson and an in-depth look at the creative and technical process behind the work.

The director spent months working through the Imperial War Museums’ original First World War footage and BBC audio to find stories and perspectives on the war “never-before presented to the public.” Each frame of the film has been hand-colourised, 3D-digitised, and restored with modern production techniques.

Peter Jackson said: “I’ve always been fascinated by the First World War due to my own family history and the Centenary felt like a unique opportunity to make a personal contribution to the commemoration. I wanted to find a way to bring new life to the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.”

A copy of the film will be given to every secondary school for the 2018 Autumn term. The programme will also include curriculum-linked learning materials presented with TES (Times Educational Supplement), and the film will feature in the Into Film Festival which takes place in the lead-up to 11 November 2018. The film has been produced by WingNut Films in New Zealand and is Executive Produced by Tessa Ross at House Productions. Trafalgar Releasing will be coordinating a simultaneous screening of the film in cinemas around the UK to coincide with the UK premiere.

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said: “When Peter and I first met, he said he wanted to create a piece of film that would bring the experience of the First World War to life for young people today, which is precisely our focus in this last season of 14-18 NOW. We are delighted to be working with such an exceptional filmmaker on this ground-breaking production and visionary resource that will enable all secondary school students in the country to see the film.”

Diane Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums, said: “After many years of swapping ideas with Peter Jackson, IWM are delighted to now be working with him on this extraordinary film to mark the centenary of Armistice in 2018. Through this unique production, Peter will reinterpret IWM’s rich First World War film archive to create an exceptional film which will be shared with audiences across the UK. This innovative new production will bring to life the stories of those who lived, fought and died during the First World War as well as revealing never-before-seen footage from IWM’s film archive from more than 100 years ago.”

Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content, said: “The culmination of the BBC’s ambitious four years of programming to mark the World War One centenary is being honoured on BBC One with the world premiere of a very special film from the highly acclaimed Peter Jackson that will bring unheard voices from a hundred years ago to life for a whole new generation to experience.”

Jon Creamer

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