Controversy Films

All the World’s a Stage: Shakespeare and the Invention of Modern Theatre in London

We are very excited to kick off the campaign for our new documentary film project on Shakespeare and the Invention of Modern Theatre in late 16th Century London!

The new documentary project, All the World’s a Stage, was inspired by Sir Derek Jacobi and Richard Clifford, who encouraged me to begin a new film after the release of Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name on SkyArts TV in the U.K. last year. I am very grateful for their support of my work.

Last month we returned to film at several locations in the U.K. and also filmed interviews with authors and scholars in Washington D.C. We are working around the clock to bring this behind-the-scenes look at the true role of Shakespeare and his literary circle in the development of innovative English drama and stagecraft to new audiences! Next month we will release a new trailer for the film.

Joining our U.S. crew this spring are award-winning film industry professionals including editor Benjamin Wellington, director of photography Ellie Walton, sound mixer Camila Franco Ribeiro Gomide, and producer and cinematographer Christina Helm. We are thrilled to welcome them to the team!

Film is a truly collaborative medium so I hope you will join us on this new venture as we embark on the journey to discover the writer/director/producer, the extraordinary auteur, who with his literary circle, invented modern theatre and launched the Golden Age of drama in England! Learn more about the project and make a tax-deductible donation here.

I am so very grateful for all of you who donated your time, enthusiasm, expertise, resources, and recommendations to help bring Nothing Is Truer than Truth aka Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name to screens large and small, and to so many new viewers. The film continues to connect with and introduce Shakespeare lovers around the world to Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, The Man Behind the Name.

As we move forward with this new project, I want to thank you once again for your continued support! Curtains up!

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Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name available on SKY TV UK in September 2022!

Controversy Films is pleased to announce that they have signed a global distribution deal with Gravitas Ventures for the documentary film Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name, which focuses on Shakespeare’s identity and the life of the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. The film will begin streaming on Sky TV UK in September.

“We are thrilled to be working with the team at Gravitas on the worldwide distribution of the film,” director Cheryl Eagan-Donovan explained, noting that “they have been excellent partners for the U.S. and Canadian releases of the film Nothing Is Truer than Truth, which has been renamed Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name for the international market. The new title comes from a line spoken by Sir Derek Jacobi in the film. 

Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name introduces Edward de Vere, A-list party boy on the continental circuit, who traveled to Venice and throughout Italy in 1575-76, discovered commedia dell’arte, and collected the experiences that would become known as the works of Shakespeare. The film argues that De Vere’s bisexuality is the reason for the pseudonym “Shakespeare.”

Gravitas Ventures is a worldwide film distributor that connects filmmakers and producers with a global audience of over a billion people. Over the course of more than 15 years in business, they have collaborated with thousands of artists to share important films with global audiences. Gravitas’ titles are frequently certified fresh, consistently release in the top of charts on many platforms, and have garnered countless nominations and awards across the independent film industry. In 2021 the Gravitas film The Mole Agent was nominated for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards.

Through Gravitas global partner Sky TV UK, the film will be available in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and British Forces Overseas Bases, beginning in September 2022.

Watch the trailer here.

Nothing Is Truer than Truth Director Cheryl Eagan-Donovan Receives Research Grant Award

We are thrilled to announce that director Cheryl Eagan-Donovan has received a research award from The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship to visit several libraries in London to continue her work for her new project on the circulation of manuscripts by and among the members of Oxford’s literary circle.
In the SOF Newsletter, Eagan-Donovan says, “I am very grateful to the SOF and honored to receive the award. Building on the work of Steven May, Roger Stritmatter, John Hamill, Alexander Waugh, and other scholars, I plan to visit the British Library, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and private libraries including Dulwich in the U.K. to look for manuscripts by and correspondence between select members of Oxford’s circle, including Marlowe, Nashe, and Peele. Because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, my preliminary research will be conducted using online collections.”

Watch Nothing is Truer Than Truth now on Amazon Prime in the U.S. and Canada, and Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name on Sky TV New Zealand and in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

We are very pleased to announce that Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name is available in New Zealand on Sky Network Television Limited and in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

NTT IFFB Poster 2.0 with large title


Cheryl Eagan-Donovan is interviewed by NPR’s Jefferson Exchange host Geoffrey Riley in a lively conversation with Shakespeare scholar Earl Showerman. Hear it now!

Director Eagan-Donovan joins the Don’t Quill the Messenger podcast to discuss “Nothing is Truer Than Truth.” Listen here!

From The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship:

Oxfordian of the Year 2019: Cheryl Eagan-Donovan

Filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan

Filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan was named Oxfordian of the Year for 2019 by the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship for her documentary film, Nothing is Truer than Truth, which follows Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, as he travels to Venice and throughout Italy in 1575-76, discovers commedia dell’arte, and collects the experiences that would become identified with the works of Shakespeare. The film explores the role of de Vere’s bisexuality as a reason for his using the pseudonym “Shake-speare.”

Eagan-Donovan discovered Edward de Vere in Professor Don Ostrowski’s history class at Harvard University in 1997. This led her to read J. Thomas Looney’s “Shakespeare” Identified and Joseph Sobran’s Alias Shakespeare. She later learned about Mark Anderson’s then-work-in-progress biography of de Vere, “Shake-speare” by Another Name. “As a writer and a filmmaker,” said Eagan-Donovan, “I knew that this story had all the elements for a great film: a complex protagonist, cinematic locations, and a true hero’s journey.” She soon met with Mark Anderson and optioned his book.

Cheryl Eagan-Donovan is the first Oxfordian of the Year to be selected by a special five-member committee appointed by the SOF president and formed for the specific purpose of bestowing that honor, a selection that had previously been made by the committee that organizes the annual conference. All members of the Oxfordian of the Year Committee are previous recipients of the award.

Read the entire announcement here.