A biography of Arena at Jewish Book Week Series Film Curator and Executive Producer Anthony Wall

Anthony Wall initially grew up near Victoria Park in London’s East End. Moving to south London, he attended St Joseph’s College, a Catholic grammar school run by the De La Salle Brothers. In 1969, he joined the National Youth Theatre and performed in its most celebrated original production, Zigger Zagger, both in London and on tour in Europe. He went on to study English at King’s College Cambridge where he won the James Prize for Poetry.

In 1974 he joined BBC radio as a studio manager. The same year, he became the rock critic of the Morning Star, reviewing and interviewing leading musicians, notably Bob Marley, who gave his first interview to a national newspaper to Wall and the Star.

In 1980, Wall wrote and presented a six-part series for Radio 3, All Across The USA about the roots music of the American South. The series featured field recordings Wall made across the southern states. Wall has maintained a love of radio and recently, based on his own interviews, made a feature documentary for 6 Music about Chuck Berry.

Wall moved to television in 1978 and soon joined Arena, briefly as a researcher, then as one of the core directors and became Series Editor along with Nigel Finch in 1985. After Finch’s death in 1995, Wall remained sole Editor until 2018. Since then, he has been committed to curating the 600 Arena films at festivals and events both in Britain and overseas, notably Your Local Arena with Lucy Hannah and Speaking Volumes.

He is also committed to creatively recomposing the films into new forms. His main project is Night and Day – The Arena Time Machine, a 24 hour evocation of a single day in the life of the planet, made entirely from the Arena archive. It screened at the San Francisco Film Festival in 2019 and Wall and Arena received the Mel Novikoff Award, one of the festival’s highest honours for their ‘contribution to cinema’. Wall has personally won three BAFTAs with numerous nominations and other awards from all over the world.