Under Milk Wood Media Rights Will Fund New Welsh Cultural Projects; FILM DIRECTOR SINCLAIR GIFTS CLASSIC MOVIE TO THE NATION

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Byline: ROBIN TURNER robin.turner@walesonline.co.uk

THE director of the classic movie of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood has announced he is gifting all media rights to the film and the screenplay "to the Welsh nation".

Novelist Andrew Sinclair, who is also a Cambridge University academic and former Hollywood "script doctor", said that the "substantial" sums would be given to cultural projects in Wales.

Dr Sinclair directed the film, which starred Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O'Toole, in 1972.

Shot on location in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, with Burton as First Voice, O'Toole as Captain Cat and Taylor as Rosie Probert, the film was based on the Swansea-born poet's original radio play.

The announcement comes as Wales and the UK prepares for the centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas' birth throughout 2014.

Events will be held in the USA and Australia as well as in Wales.

At a special 40th anniversary screening of the film in Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre last night, hosted by Bafta in Wales and supported by BBC Cymru Wales, Dr Sinclair announced the "substantial sum" the rights would raise will be administered by a new Wales-based body, the Milkwood Trust.

Initial Trust members will include former BBC Wales official and ex-private secretary to the Prince of Wales, Dr Manon Williams, Dr Sinclair and Dylan Thomas' granddaughter and president of the Dylan Thomas Society, Hannah Ellis Thomas.

Speaking to the Western Mail, Dr Sinclair said: "There are plans for computer applications of the work, in the form of apps and downloads and money will be raised from single performances of the film and from film rights and screenplay rights.

"The rights are very valuable, I went through three lawsuits with film studios who wanted to get their hands on them.

"I want the money to go to cultural and artistic projects and films made in Wales.

"The rights have a long way to run, they are valid until the end of the current century."

Artefacts from the making of the film including letters written by Burton and Taylor, photographs, original scripts signed by the late Victor Spinetti (who played Mog Edwards) and other members of the cast are now part of a collection also "given to Wales" and will be kept at the National Library's Film Library in Aberystwyth. …