Karl Francis

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Karl Francis (born 1 April 1942) is a Welsh film and television director, producer and screenwriter, associated with left-wing political causes.[1] His work is inspired by the likes of Chris Marker and Ken Loach and has included output in both the English and Welsh languages.


Francis was born in Bedwas in South Wales. He won a scholarship which allowed him to study at Manchester University where he gained his BA in 1964. He then attended Hornsey College of Art to study for a post-graduate diploma on Film in Education. He began his media career in television in 1971, first as an independent investigator, before taking a production post with ITV, working on Weekend World for London Weekend Television.[2] In 1973 he switched to the BBC and produced programmes such as 2nd House.

In 1977 he wrote, produced and directed the docu-drama Above us the Earth. The film, shot in the spring and summer of 1975, records the closure of the Ogilvie colliery in the Rhymney Valley and the effect on the miners and the larger community. The film uses professional and amateur actors to show the relationships between workers, unions and the National Coal Board, along with footage of the political leaders of the day.[3] The film is seen as an important film in its social commentary and is now part of the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. In 2010 the BBC Wales art site, selected Above us the Earth as one of the ten greatest films about Wales.[4] In 2012, the BFI/UK Film Council selected Above Us The Earth as the best independent film ever made in Wales.

In 1995 he was appointed the Head of Drama at BBC Wales,[5] a role he held until 1997.[1]

In 2008 Francis released Hope Eternal, the film tells the story of a Madagascan nurse working in a Tuberculosis and AIDS hospice in the Congo. Hope Eternal was made in six languages combining both film and poetry simultaneously using subtitles in English. The film opened the Hay Sony Film Festival 2008 and was submitted as the UK nominee for the category of Best Foreign Language Film for the 82nd Academy Awards; though it failed to be selected for the final five nominees.[6]

‘You are foolish to make this film in Africa. What horror they will say, we had to turn the television off’ Poem, by Karl Francis

‘Empowering women is what your film should be about’ Note from Hope to Director Karl Francis

'What Francis is doing in this film is taking a quite vicious story on the abuse of African children by African men, and embodying his own poetry into the harsh scenes as part of his own film culture' Hay Film Festival

'By forcing the film to stop and read poetry, he obliges the audience to move away from social realism into their own silence' Hay Film Festival

In July 2009 Francis was put on the UK sex offenders' register after "admitting wrongdoing" in relation to the offence of making indecent images of children.[7] Francis stated that he was undertaking a film project into the trafficking of children for the sex trade, and stated that despite informing the police of the nature of his investigation before hand, he felt forced to accept the caution after his computer, which contained his life's written work, had been seized.[8] In July 2011 Francis spoke in public about his desire to the see the cautioning system, which saw him placed on the sex offenders register for two years, reformed, taking into account genuine investigative work.[8] In August 2011 the Independent Police Complaints Commission accepted Francis' claim that the South Wales Police had failed to investigate a series of complaints about the handling of his case.[9] As of 1 August 2011 the South Wales Police are investigating his complaints.[9]



Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Francis, Karl (1942- )". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Francis, Karl (1942- )". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Above us the Earth". movinghistory.ac.uk. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Top 10 Welsh films: Above Us The Earth". BBC Wales. 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Culf, Andrew (14 December 1995). "Drama revival in BBC £191m winter season". The Guardian. p. 9. 
  6. ^ "Welsh film on Academy Award list". BBC News. 18 October 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Film director Karl Francis put on sex offenders’ register". South Wales Echo. Walesonline. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Shipton, Martin (22 July 2011). "Film director Karl Francis wants police caution reform after being branded sex offender". Western Mail. Walesonline. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Shipton, Martin (1 August 2011). "Film director cautioned for downloading indecent images for research wins complaints victory against police". Western Mail. Walesonline. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Ruth Caleb
BBC Wales Head of Drama
Succeeded by
Pedr James