'Hillsborough' - Screening and Q&A

2010-11-19 As promised almost a year ago, Clapperboard's 'Hillsborough' screening and q&a with Christopher Eccleston will take place Monday 6th December, 7:00pm @ FACT (88 Wood Street, L1 4DQ, Liverpool, UK).

Tickets: Picturehouse or FACT

Images from the event - also here --- Jen's report --- Videos

Sarah Kelly from Clapperboard UK told ATBN:
"The film was chosen by Chris himself. When we approach any of the artists who take part in Clapperboard Presents we ask them to pick their favourite film, and screen that. Chris is a great supporter of the work Clapperboard does with young people across the North West. We hope to work with him again in the future."
As per usual, the session will eventually be made available online: "The Clapperboard Presents Q&A's are always recorded and go on our website a few weeks later. We are also creating a DVD with all past Clapperboard Presents Q&A's which will be available to purchase shortly."

Clapperboard Presents:
Hillsborough, written by Jimmy McGovern, directed by Charles McDougall, starring Christopher Eccleston, is a dramatisation of the events that unfolded on 15th April 1989 and follows three Liverpudlian families before the match, during the tragedy and at the ensuing court battles which tried to decide who was to blame and what went wrong.
Christopher Eccleston plays the part of Trevor Hicks, whose story formed the focus of the script. Hicks lost two teenage daughters in the disaster and went on to campaign for safer stadia, as well as helping form the Hillsborough Families Support Group. It was reported by many newspapers that McGovern’s drama was an influencing factor in the set up of a new inquiry in 1997.

Actor Christopher Eccleston will participate in a Question and Answers session with the audience, chaired by Professor of Film Roger Shannon, Media Department Edge Hill University.

Income raised from
Clapperboard Presents... will go toward the Clapperboard Youth Project. Tickets prices are £11 each with concessions £8 direct from FACT box office 08717 042063.

Liverpool Echo November 30, 2010
A few months before it was first broadcast, 14 years ago, Christopher Eccleston told the ECHO of Jimmy McGovern's Hillsborough: "This will show what television is really for."

Today, as he looks forward to attending a special screening of the drama-documentary at Fact in Liverpool, followed by a question and answer session, he stands by that quote – and another one: "Hillsborough is the most important piece of work I’ve ever done and ever will do."

The families of those who died and the survivors may still be waiting for justice, but this 102 minutes of television had a major impact on the country.

Recalling its power, Christopher – who played Trevor Hicks, the then chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support, whose two daughters, Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, died in the 1989 disaster – says: "Beyond Merseyside, no one knew the truth about what happened at Hillsborough. People had swallowed the lies that the right-wing Press told, together with what the government and the police put out there.

"Jimmy wrote it to correct those lies and, most importantly, to allow the families to grieve – because the lies devastated and destroyed the grieving process."

Before he could take the part, Christopher had to speak to the man he was portraying: "I did feel a great deal of responsibility and the first thing I did was visit Trevor Hicks to get his blessing."

Christopher, who was Trevor's best man when he remarried, in March 2009, adds: "He has said to me since that he was initially sceptical about the whole enterprise. He gave me quite a rigorous interview – he wanted to know what my motives were for doing it. Then he gave me his blessing, I accepted the role and he gave me total access to his life and his experiences.

"All the actors met the Hillsborough Family Support Group, which was completely involved – they visited the set and gave us information and opened their hearts to us."

But despite the weight of responsibility, Christopher reveals: "In the build-up to its broadcast, I felt very confident because I knew there wasn't a word of untruth in the piece. Jimmy made sure of that because the lawyers were watching."

His fellow cast members included Ricky Tomlinson, Mark Womack and Annabelle Apsion. Did a strong bond and camaraderie develop between everyone, or is "camaraderie" the wrong word given the nature of the work? "It does sound like the wrong word, but everyone was on the same money and we had just one caravan on set for 15 women and one caravan for 15 men, so there were arms and legs coming out of the windows as everyone got dressed."

And although the actors were portraying the Hicks, Glover and Spearritt families, they and the drama-documentary, itself, were, of course, representing all 96 families, although Christopher says: "I know it was agonising for Jimmy that he couldn't tell every story. Jimmy is a sensitive bloke – that's why he's a writer."

After it was broadcast at 9pm on Thursday, December 5, 1996, Hillsborough was debated on phone-ins across the country – many callers said it was the first time they had been presented with the full truth about the disaster – and thrust back onto the news agenda as the government and South Yorkshire police came under new pressure.

But Christopher admits: "I'm not sure I expected the reaction it got – I'm not sure any of us did. I think I was surprised at the scale of it. I know Jimmy had something powerful to say but I was surprised, though heartened, at the strength of the reaction.

"It was doing two things – addressing the nation's conscience and demonstrating the power of television. There is a sense now that television has, largely, turned into an idiot box – and it certainly wasn't that when I was young."

But countless TV executives, motivated by the three Rs – ratings, ratings, ratings – have since gone down the reality show route, or, in ITV's case, as Christopher puts it: "Idiots in the jungle wearing bikinis and eating cockroaches."

He adds: "Jimmy had just given ITV Cracker and they asked 'What do you want to do next?' He could have done anything, but he wanted to tell the truth about Hillsborough."

Five months after it was screened, Labour came to power and new Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered a "scrutiny of new evidence".

Christopher says: "The drama-documentary played a small part but, really, 90% of it was down to the efforts of the Hilsborough Family Support Group from 1989 onwards."

Regarding future prospects of justice for the families, he says: "I'd like to think it's inevitable but I don't want to jinx it."

And now, almost 14 years on from the original broadcast, Christopher is delighted to be heading to Fact next Monday for the special screening, with proceeds going to the Clapperboard Youth Project.

Clapperboard UK Ltd is a non-profit-making and charitable organisation which works with people aged from 12 to 19 to help bring creativity into their lives.

Christopher says: "It's a great project and when Clapperboard director Maureen Sinclair asked me to pick a piece of work I didn't want it to be about me. I thought it would be appropriate if it was something about Liverpool."
• From a recent article
TV & Satellite Week: What role are you proudest of?
Christopher Eccleston: Trevor Hicks in Hillsborough. My involvement fulfilled a dream, because I believed what we were doing had real weight and urgency, and needed to be made.
• The Mirror November 30, 1996 interview with Christopher Eccleston
For friends and family of those who died at Hillsborough, the agony lingered on long after images of the tragedy had faded. Christopher Eccleston, star of Cracker and Shallow Grave, understands the legacy of those harrowing events better than most. In Hillsborough, Chris plays Trevor Hicks, a dad who lost two teenage daughters in the crush. And while researching the role, he spent weeks talking to the bereaved father.

"I listened to Trevor's story and it was a privilege to spend as much time as I have with him," Chris says. "It is so important that Trevor and the rest of the family's stories are heard so that we can better understand what happened."

As soon as he read the script, Chris agreed to appear in the drama which tells the grim story of how 96 soccer fans were crushed to death at Sheffield Wednesday's ground in April 1989. Cracker writer Jimmy McGovern decided to pen the story when he was approached by families still struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of Hillsborough.

"When you put the part of Trevor together with the fact that it's a Jimmy McGovern script, it was a role which I really had to play," says Chris. "There were so many challenging scenes as an actor but I believe one of the toughest was when Trevor begs his wife, Jenni, to try and get on with what was left of their lives by washing some bedsheets.
"But she could not do it because they still held the scent of their dead daughters, and she was trying to cling to every single memory."

The pounds 1 million Granada special is a two-hour drama made by the company's drama and documentary departments. It is expected to spark anger from South Yorkshire police who snubbed an invitation to help with the production. McGovern was still working on the script when a court recently awarded pounds 1.2million to 14 police officers said to be "mentally scarred" by the tragedy. This encouraged him further to tell the families' side of Hillsborough.

His film focuses upon three families - the Glovers, the Hicks, and the Spearritts, who all lost loved ones. Key scenes of the build-up to the horrifying crush inside the Hillsborough ground were recreated on a piece of waste ground in Clayton, Manchester. To make it authentic, casting directors trawled Liverpool streets to sign up extras before bussing them to the location. But TV producers decided not to film the horrific scenes of people being crushed in pens.

The ghastly events have left a lasting impression on Chris who is currently unemployed thanks, he says, to a lack of quality scripts.

"There is so much dross around at the moment, I just don't want to work. I'd never take a role just for the sake of it," he says. "I'd prefer to wait for something else by McGovern.
"He's an outstanding writer. He's not controversial. He just tackles real issues."
Also, April 16, 1998:
TV writer Jimmy McGovern described the football tragedy's ninth anniversary as a "sad day". McGovern, who wrote the powerful drama-documentary Hillsborough, said: "It is sad for the families and sad for the country as a whole.
"The least you could expect from a Labour Government is to reopen the inquiry.
"It doesn't cost much commitment to social justice."
After yesterday's memorial service Hillsborough actor Christopher Eccleston said he felt privileged to have been asked to take part. He said that on hearing Jack Straw's Parliament statement in February he had been "disgusted" that there was to be no new inquiry into the disaster. Mr Eccleston added: "It was a disgraceful performance from a politician's point of view."

- - -
During the service candles were lit in front of the Kop by actors Scot Williams and Christopher Eccleston, who played Joe Glover and Trevor Hicks in the drama documentary Hillsborough. [...] A lesson was read by Charles McDougal, director of the programme.

Read more:
Report from Jimmy McGovern Q&A at 2009 ScreenLit Festival
Jimmy McGovern's article for The Guardian
About the film at BFI's ScreenOnline

'Hillsborough' is available on DVD.


Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to gauge people's emotions at this event given the subject involved, given that it's twenty-one years since this awful tragedy happened.

As a lifelong Nottingham Forest supporter I haven't forgotten what happened that day.

It will also be interesting to hear what Christopher (being a Manchester United fan) what his genuine thoughts are too.

The emergence of football now being a rich man's game, no longer the working man's, the Premiership and the consequent of all seated arenas makes me wonder whether or not football has become the "beautiful game" it once was.

Hedgehog said...

Did someone have the chance to get there? It would be very interesting to hear how it was like... Sadly I couldn't go.