‘The worst meeting I have ever had’: why a Kindertransport hero rejected a film about his life

Posted on December 31, 2023

As One Life is released, producer says that Nicholas Winton – the ‘British Schindler’ who saved 669 children – was reluctant for his story to be told

Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved hundreds of children from the Nazis, was so modest that he rejected an initial proposal to make a film about him, according to the producer of One Life, the soon-to-be released biographical drama about the British humanitarian.

Iain Canning told the Observer that, about five years before Winton’s death in 2015 aged 106, he and fellow producer Emile Sherman visited him at his Maidenhead home during a break from shooting their film, The King’s Speech.

Over tea, they broached the subject of making a film about the man who helped save 669 children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia, just before the beginning of the second world war, but Winton politely turned them down.

“I still to this day call it the worst meeting I have ever had,” said Canning. “He was 99 or 100 at the time. We said, ‘We think what you did was absolutely incredible and we would love to make a film about that particular moment in your life.’ He said, ‘Oh, no one else needs to know what I did. No one else. Anyone who needs to know about this, already knows about it.’ ”

Canning added: “He was a man with such kind eyes. We were humbled by him.”

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