Top film director makes 'drama' for Blair

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The Independent Online
One OF Britain's leading film directors will unveil his latest work tomorrow - and it looks as if it could prove to be the most dramatic party political broadcast ever shown in Britain.

Stephen Frears, director of the film hits, Dangerous Liaisons, Sammy And Rosie Get Laid, Prick Up Your Ears, and My Beautiful Laundrette, was commissioned by Labour to make its final offering for the election campaign. Mr Frears' film, to be shown on Monday night, is a drama, starring Peter Postlethwaite, who appeared in the film In The Name Of The Father.

Shot in Watford, this film will feature 40 schoolchildren, all of whom have been vetted to check they come from Labour-supporting families. The exact details of what happens and who says what to whom, are still a closely-guarded secret. But party officials are confident the enterprise will provide a riveting finale to their campaign.

The idea is that after last week's Blair: The Movie, from another heavyweight director, documentary-maker Molly Dineen - which was intended to be an intimate portrait of the party leader - this film will show the challenges ahead.

Labour has staked much on using big names to make the films, believing they are the best way of reaching a wide audience. The Conservatives, by contrast, have not produced anything as radical since John Major's tour down memory lane shown for the 1992 election.

Ms Dineen, who made her reputation with a string of gritty, fly-on-the- wall documentaries for the BBC, said that party political broadcasts were unsatisfactory for directors like herself. The public was so cynical about politicians that too much material had to be left on the cutting room floor, she said.

In making her film she shot Mr Blair talking about his deep-seated Christianity, but this was cut because it was felt viewers would think he was not being sincere. He spoke at length about the effect of the media on politicians, but, again, while this would have been fine for a documentary, it was not considered suitable for a party broadcast on the television.

Similarly, Mr Blair's point that his youthful experiences had shaped his politics, was also dropped. "You approach it as a documentary but you're not making one," said Ms Dineen. She added that she would not make a party election broadcast again. "It was interesting and Blair is a interesting person, but the constraint of doing something for a client is too much."