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Documentary Film Weekend with Jonathan Stedall Fri 18 Jan - Sun 20 Jan

  • Arts

A unique opportunity to see an outstanding selection of BBC documentary films  - including biographies of Tolstoy, Gandhi and C G Jung, and filmed essays by Alan Bennett and Ben Okri – in the company of their award-winning director, Jonathan Stedall.

There will be space to discuss the content of the films, as well as to look at the art of documentary film-making.

Friday evening, 18 January

‘Portrait or Bust’ - the Leeds City Art Gallery, with Alan Bennett (50’). Open to public.

Saturday 19 January

9.30 - 11am: Biography ‘Tolstoy - from Riches to Rags’ (75’).

11.30 - 12.45pm: ‘East meets West’ - counterculture in the 70’s California, from the series ’The Long Search’ (50’).

2.30 - 4pm: ‘Candle on the Hill’ - Camphill on it’s 50th anniversary in 1989 (60’).

4.30 - 6pm: ’The Story of Carl Gustav Jung’ with Laurens van der Post (75’).

 7.30 - 8.30pm: ‘Gandhi’s India’ - biography, and portrait of India twenty years after Gandhi's death (60’). Open to Public

9 - 10pm: ‘From London to Arcadia’ with Ben Okri, from the series ‘Great Railway Journeys’ (50’) Open to Public


During his long career at the BBC, Jonathan Stedall made a wide variety of documentary films, all reflecting in one way or another his deep interest in what he calls ‘a bigger picture’. His biographies of Tolstoy, Gandhi and Jung were, for him, milestones along the way – as was his more recent film ‘The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner’.

He has worked with leading writers and presenters of recent times, from John Betjeman, Laurens van der Post, Mark Tully, Malcolm Muggeridge and Alan Whicker, to Posy Simmonds, Michael Portillo, Bernard Lovell, and Cecil Collins. 

In 1968 Jonathan won a British Film Academy Award (now BAFTA) for the first of several films he went on to make about the Camphill movement and their work for children and adults with special needs. This interest he has in what has gradually become a worldwide network of schools and village communities culminated in a trilogy of films called ‘Candle on the Hill’ which he made to celebrate Camphill’s 50th anniversary in 1989 – Part One of which he will also be showing at the gathering.

One of Jonathan’s contributions to the BBC series ‘The Long Search’, written and presented by Ron Eyre, was a film made in California in 1976 called ‘East meets West’. In it there are conversations with cultural historian Theodore Roszak (‘The Making of a Counterculture’), Jacob Needleman (‘Lost Christianity’) and Fritjof Capra (‘The Tao of Physics’). This film, along with those mentioned above, will give people a unique window into some of the important shifts in human consciousness that have taken place over the last hundred years or so – shifts in how we think about war and peace, about the environment, about science and religion, and about ourselves.  

Jonathan Stedall has made over one hundred and fifty documentary films, largely for the BBC. He won a British Film Academy Award for his film ‘In Need of Special Care’, and has been nominated by the Broadcasting Press Guild and by BAFTA.

His early career included work as a Stage Manager in Repertory Theatre, an assistant film editor at Pinewood, and as a Floor Manager in commercial television. He joined the BBC as a producer/director at the advent of BBC2 in 1963. Many of his early films were made with the poet John Betjeman, and his work has always been prompted by his faith in a world that is essentially good and has meaning.

In 1984 Jonathan moved from London to the BBC in Bristol, and since 1990 has worked as freelance director, as well as writing his autobiography ‘Where on Earth is Heaven?’ (Hawthorn Press 2009), and a collection of poems under the title ‘No Shore Too Far’, written after the death of his wife (Hawthorn Press 2017).

He has a son and daughter and lives near Stroud in Gloucestershire.

 ‘… a unique window into some of the important shifts in human consciousness that have taken place over the last hundred years or so …’

£190 residential single
£150 residential shared
£95 non-residential

Arrival 4.00-6.00pm; then supper at 6.30pm and evening film; ends after film on Saturday evening or after breakfast on Sunday for residential guests

£8 / £6 concessions for Friday eve only (one film)

£12 / £ 8 concessions for Sat eve only (two films)

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