With an introduction by Lawrence Napper
One of the most controversial films of the 1920s Dawn tells the story of British nurse Edith Cavell, shot at dawn by the Germans on 12 October 1915 for helping over 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during WW1. Diplomatic efforts to minimise the film's perceived potential for inflaming anti-German sentiment and disrupting international relations led to censor cuts for British audiences but in Belgium the film was released intact. It is this uncensored version that we present for our stirring Festival screening.

Director Herbert Wilcox was keen to ensure realism and historical accuracy in his film, using original location footage, scrupulously researched set designs and one of Cavell's collaborators -Ada Bodart - playing herself. The lead role was given to prominent stage actress Sybil Thorndike, whose physical resemblance to Cavell and dignified performance add yet more weight to this suspenseful war drama.

Dir.Herbert Wilcox | UK | 1928 | N/C PG | French and Dutch intertitles with English surtitles | 1h 31m + short accompanied by Forrester Pyke
With: Sybil Thorndike, Ada Bodart, Gordon Craig, Marie Ault

Performing Live: Stephen Horne (piano, flute, accordion), Frank Bockius (percussion)

Screening material courtesy Belgian Royal Film Archive


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