Controversy Films


Voting is live today for the 2024 SXSW Film Festival & Conference – please vote for Controversy Films director Cheryl Eagan-Donovan’s Panel: How to Create a Killer Pitch! Please share this link with friends, family, and colleagues. We hope to see you in Austin!

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.