March 22, 2023

Uncle Frank writer/director Alan Ball on his father’s “what if?” story


Writer/director Alan Ball knows he started at the top as a writer. His first movie screenplay won him an Oscar. It was American Beauty and, to date, it’s the only time somebody else has directed his script for a film.

His latest film sees him in the director’s chair as well as writing. Uncle Frank arrives on Amazon Prime on Wednesday and stars Paul Bettany in what Ball describes as a “what if” story about his father, rather than one based on his actual life. Bettany plays a college lecturer in the 70s who has concealed his sexuality from his family for a number of years, but is forced to confront the truth about himself and his past by the death of his father.

Talking to The People’s Movies’ Freda Cooper, Ball recalls the moment when his mother revealed she thought his father had been gay and, while he was unable to prove it, the idea percolated for about 30 years before he was able to write about it. And he reflects on attitudes in the 1970s to the gay community, a time when it stood in the way of being “a fully functioning member of mainstream society.”

Uncle Frank is released on Amazon Prime on Wednesday, 25 November. 

 Read our review of the film here