My fascination with the life of Nicholas Winton – and the inspiration behind my film, Nicholas Winton: The Power of Good – sprang from the book Pearls of Childhood by Vera Gissing, which totally changed my life. This is a powerful and touching account of the unusual life of a little girl whose wonderful childhood was destroyed by the worst events of the previous century and who was miraculously saved by one man – Nicholas Winton.  

When I read about him, I was immediately convinced that this was a great story. I wanted to know what films had been made about this unique rescue operation. I got in touch with Alice Klímová and she told me that the best way to get a direct answer to this question would be to contact Vera Gissing. Getting in touch with Vera was the beginning of our long friendship and collaboration.

   
 

Vera told me that no film had ever been made about Nicholas Winton. This information astounded me. But, Vera said, that she was working on a book about this man and she had researched extensively in the archives and conducted many interviews with Winton. As a filmmaker I immediately felt an urge to put Mr. Winton’s story into film.

   
 


Vera enthusiastically promised to cooperate and to show me all her material. Seeing her work on the Winton rescue mission really astonished me. She also took me to meet Winton personally. I expected to meet a ‘hero’, but instead I had found somebody much more surprising – an ordinary man with a great sense of humor. You could talk with him on many subjects – from gardening, films, or opera to sports. I remember that I spent most of the time laughing at his jokes. 

   


Vera has been very devoted to this man who rescued her sister and herself. Although she only became personally acquainted with him in 1988 her life was totally transformed by learning about him. She started to lecture on him at schools. I must tell you: I, and my collaborators, Martina Stolbova and Patrik Pass, were drawn in by her enthusiasm.  

The first film I shot on the subject of Winton´s operation was a feature film, All My Loved Ones (produced by Jiri Bartoska and Rudolf Biermann, the role of Winton being played by Rupert Graves), which depicts a fictional story of one Czech child who was rescued by Winton.  

   
 

One of the most moving moments in the film is the scene in which the little hero packs for a trip to Britain. His mother brings him a precious present – an empty diary – explaining that, through this diary, they could communicate even in the moments they were separated. I took this scene, with the permission of Vera, from her autobiographical book. The film was a Slovak nominee for the Oscar competition and was awarded 14 prestigious prizes presented on more than 65 film festivals. This film is currently on show in the USA and in DVD distribution. 
   
 


The second film was a documentary picture: Nicholas Winton: The Power of Good. We had the good fortune to have one of the rescued children, Joe Schlesinger, as the narrator and guide to the film. My crew, Vera and Joe had a very challenging task: to make a film that would faithfully reconstruct the Prague rescue mission and show how one man’s courage and determination could ‘change the history’. It was not only thrilling work for all of us; we also felt we had a certain duty to do our best to finish successfully this documentary and, in this way, to thank Mr. Winton for his extraordinary efforts to save Czech children before the outbreak of World War II. I hope that we have managed to achieve this aim.