Magazine article Screen International

Vanessa Redgrave Q&A: 'I Won’t Direct Again'

Magazine article Screen International

Vanessa Redgrave Q&A: 'I Won’t Direct Again'

Article excerpt

Vanessa Redgrave, 80, first came to Cannes in 1966 when she won Best Actress for Morgan - A Suitable Case for Treatment. 51 years later she returns with her directorial debut, Sea Sorrow, a very personal documentary about the refugee crisis.

Her son Carlo Nero (whose credits include The Fever and Eyes of St John) produces. Key contributors to the film include interviewee Lord Alf Dubs, as well as Ralph Fiennes and Emma Thompson.

The film screens Thursday (May 18) as a Special Screening in Official Selection and is sold by Autlook.

Had you thought about directing a film for a while?

No I hadn't at all, absolutely not. It's the subject matter.

Why is the story of refugees so important to you, did that start when you were young?

Very definitely it started in my childhood [during World War 2]. Like many children, I was an evacuee as we were called in those days. There wasn't any human rights legislation regarding refugees. I think it's unforgettable when you get separated from your parents. We went to live with a relative so we were lucky.

There were thousands of London children who were evacuated and didn't stay with relatives. One story I will never forget – I had learned to read very, very early, and when I was about four our nanny had a newspaper, and there was a terrifying story of two evacuated children that had been starved and beaten by a farmer. One of them died, they had been stealing turnips from his field because they were so hungry. I shiver thinking about it now. That cruelty goes on today with refugees. That's what happening

What was it like for you to visit the refugee camps?

It's horrifying to see. That shouldn't have happened to refugees, but it did. I've been in Kosovo, I've been where Palestinians have been refugees, I've been in the freezing cold where people are surviving in UN programmes It makes you all the more determined to get them the help that you know could and should be getting.

How did you decide to tell such a massive global story in a personal way?

I can't remember the exact moment. It's very much thanks to Carlo [Nero, her son and producer] that it's told that way, it's instinct.

Why was Lord Dubs such a compelling figure to follow, is he someone you already knew?

I hadn't known him. It was a wonderful blessing to meet him. Alf Dubs is proof of what can happen. …

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