The greatest ice skater of all time, John Curry transformed ice skating from a dated sport into an exalted art form.
Interview with Director James Erskine
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I first came across the story in the Guardian newspaper in London, in an article written by Bill Jones who wrote the biography, "Along: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry”, which the film was based on. I thought it was an amazing story, full of pathos and tragedy, culminating in a triumphant life that posed questions of art and identity, which have contemporary resonance.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
My goodness, you are a member of the audience! You should watch it because it offers all cinema can be: an incredible character doing incredible things; it is beauty, it is art, it will lift you up, it will break your heart, and it will leave you feeling the very importance and wonder of the human experience.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
It’s a tight interplay I look to explore between the macro – the larger society – and the micro: the individual character’s experience. The theatrical documentaries I make always look to put the character in their contemporary world, questioning the political and social pressures that shape the individual both in adolescence in their current actions, and how the individual presses on to leave their shape on the world.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
What was clear to me from the beginning was that John Curry’s excellent performance should be centre-stage. The artist should represent themselves. The challenge was to find existing performances (many were thought lost) to balance it.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
When the film was released in the UK it had one hundred percent positive reviews. It’s a very moving film, which is what we intended, and while obviously arthouse, I think it can reach much further.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
The film needs wider distribution in the US. It’s had a successful cinema run in UK and was picked up by the BBC Storyville strand. It’s also being released in Australia, Japan and several other territories.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Journalists, social media advocates, film festivals and buyers and distributors.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
First, for the audience who see it to be moved and feel it in their hearts. Second, we are already adapting it as a dramatic film with a wonderful award-winning playwright so we’d like to see the documentary stand on its own feet, and be a clarion call to the making of the drama.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Who else in the history of humanity has had to win a gold medal at the Olympics in order to create an art form?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
The film was produced by New Black Films, a collective of three key individuals. Producer Victoria Gregory and writer/director Alex Holmes were involved, the latter served as the executive producer on The Ice King. Our model is that we all work on each other’s pictures. As well as already stated, we’re looking to adapt the documentary into a drama. We’re also putting together a film on Billie Holiday (which I’ll direct, Victoria will produce, and Alex executive produce). Victoria has just produced a great feature documentary called Maiden that Alex wrote and directed, and on which I acted as executive producer.
Interview: July 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
The Ice King
Coming out on the night of his Olympic win in 1976, John Curry became the first openly gay Olympian in a time when homosexuality was not even fully legal. Toxic yet charming; rebellious yet elitist; emotionally aloof yet spectacularly needy; ferociously ambitious yet bent on self-destruction, this is a man forever on the run: from his father's ghost, his country, and even his own self. Above all, an artist and an athlete whose body time and time again – sometimes against his will – becomes a political battlefield.
Length: 89 mins
Director: James Erskine
Producer: Victoria Gregory & James Erskine
Writer: James Erskine
About the writer, director and producer:
JAMES ERSKINE is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker whose work as a writer/director/producer includes, in addition to his New Black Films projects, ‘Vanishing of the Bees’; ‘Oil Storm’, an award-winning TV movie for FX; and ‘EMR’, a theatrically released independent feature, and winner of several film festivals including Raindance. He has also directed several episodes of popular BBC dramas ‘Robin Hood’, ‘Torchwood’, ‘Holby City’ and ‘EastEnders’, among others. As well as developing New Black Films’ current projects, James is currently directing ‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams’, the authorised biopic of Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar.
VICTORIA GREGORY’s last theatrical documentary project before joining New Black Films was with Working Title Films on the BAFTA award-winning ‘Senna’, having previously co-produced the Oscar-winning ‘Man on Wire’. A career at the BBC in production management included among others: BAFTA-winning ‘The Secret Policeman’, factual drama series ‘Space Race’ and ‘Dunkirk’, prior to which Victoria had also worked on the award winning feature film ‘Last Resort’. Victoria has carved herself a niche maximising the value of documentary and drama-documentary features.
ALEX HOLMES is a BAFTA-winning filmmaker with extensive experience in producing, directing, and writing acclaimed documentaries and dramas. His work as a writer-director includes searing documentary ‘Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story’ for BBC’s Storyville, which Variety magazine called “riveting… devastating… thought-provoking”, as well as Emmy and BAFTA-winning factually-based dramas ‘House of Saddam’ and ‘Dunkirk’. “Coalition”, a TV film about the 2010 general election directed by Alex for Channel 4, has recently won Best Single Drama at the Royal Television Society Awards.
Key cast: Freddie Fox
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists
Social media handles: @dogwoof AND @newblackflms AND @theicekingmovie
Funders: Dogwoof, BBC, New Black Films and Goldfinch Studios
Made in association with: Dogwoof, BBC, New Black Films and Goldfinch Studios