Filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan named Oxfordian of the Year

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Cheryl Eagan-Donovan [Photo provided]

Filmmaker Cheryl Eagan-Donovan has been named Oxfordian of the Year for 2019 by the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship for her documentary film “Nothing Is Truer than Truth.”

The documentary is about Shakespeare’s identity and the life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who traveled in 1575-76 to Venice and throughout Italy, where he collected the experiences that are reflected in the works of Shakespeare. The Controversy Films production was released Feb. 12, by Gravitas Ventures, according to a news release.

“I was so surprised and absolutely thrilled to receive the prestigious Oxfordian of the Year Award,” said Eagan-Donovan in a statement. “I am extremely moved and grateful to be included with such an illustrious group of scholars, authors, actors, educators, attorneys, and Justice John Paul Stevens, who have been past recipients of the award.”

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, I knew that this story had all the elements for a great film: a complex protagonist, cinematic locations, and a true hero’s journey,” Eagan-Donovan said.

Filmed in Venice, Verona, Mantua, Padua, and Brenta, Italy, at sites visited by De Vere that became the settings for “The Merchant of Venice,” “Othello,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” the film features award-winning actors and directors Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Mark Rylance, Diane Paulus, and Tina Packer.

Eagan-Donovan said the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Board of Trustees’ generous donation pledged last year at their annual conference allowed her to complete the distribution deal for the U.S. and Canada.

“I’m very excited about expanding the distribution to the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world,” she said.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was an Elizabethan A-list party boy on the continental circuit. During his travels to Italy, he was exposed to commedia dell’arte, Italian sculptures and paintings by master artists, and specific details about the Italian landscape that are prevalent in the Shakespearean canon. The film posits that De Vere was bisexual, one of the key reasons for his use of the pseudonym “Shake-speare,” according to the news release.

View the trailer for the film here.

“The feedback we have received from viewers, including many college professors, has been very positive,” said Eagan-Donovan.

Eagan-Donovan’s debut feature, “All Kindsa Girls,” screened at film festivals and art house theaters in London, Toronto and the U.S. She has published articles on Shakespeare, sexuality, writing and film. She also teaches writing, literature, and cinema.

Controversy Films presents media projects that challenge the conventional wisdom. The company’s films ask difficult questions, inciting dialogue and action. For more information, go to


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