2nd Great Britain Retro Film Festival — Interview with co-curator Paul Dravet

– by David Morgan-Brown

Ex-At the Movies presenter David Stratton brings back the Great Britain Retro Film Festival for its second year, and hopefully what will become an annual regular at Luna Cinemas. Last year’s run of British classics gave a resurgence to a number of old films which haven’t graced the Australian cinema screen for decades, and again this year features even more obscure British masterpieces of the past given new life by this festival.

paul dravet posterI spoke with Paul Dravet (pictured left), who co-curated this festival with Stratton, and he explained its genesis after Stratton finished with At the Movies. “David spent the first twenty years of his life in England and, in addition to being one of the great film buffs on the planet, he’s got a particular love for British films, so that’s where the whole idea came from in the first place.”

With Britain in mind, Paul tells me what this variety of films from different time periods says about the changing social landscape of the country and how that’s been reflected in these films. “I think any films from any decade speak a lot about the culture they come from, I think that the gentle humour of the Ealing comedies of the ‘50s says a lot about England at that time. And you move into the later period of Jean Brody, that starts showing a shift in the way people are thinking, Travels with my Aunt a bit later again with Maggie Smith, same thing. And also Mrs Brown with Judie Dench and Billy Connolly I think that’s an engagement at that stage which is still quite active now in history and the history of England, whether it be the monarchy or even Passages to India when the British were occupying India.”

As I noticed, this year’s programme features far less well-known British films than last year. This year doesn’t feature classics such as the likes of The Third Man, 2001, and the classics of Powell/Pressburger from last year, but is mostly made up of equally as fantastic, yet lesser known greats. “The Man in the White Suit, Hobson’s Choice, Blithe Spirit, Lavender Hill Mob, these are all marvellous films, but some of these have not been seen on a cinema screen for about thirty years, so it was very tempting to get these films out there to a new audience because last year’s British festival attracted an expected audience of older elderly people, but the big surprise was just how many young people were coming, and I think we’re kind of gambling on the fact that David Stratton’s name is going to attract that audience again for films that maybe if they weren’t attached to the festival, they probably would not find as big an audience.”

Tickets for the festival are available here. Below is the list of films in this year’s festival (and check out the programme):

  • Blithe Spirit (1945)
  • Odd Man Out (1947)
  • Hobson’s Choice (1954)
  • The Ladykillers (1955)
  • Travels with my Aunt (1972)
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  • The Lavender Hill Mob 91951)
  • Chariots of Fire (1981)
  • Our Man in Havana (1959)
  • Whiskey Galore (1949)
  • Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963)
  • A Passage to India (1985)
  • The Man in the White Suit (1951)
  • Her Majesty Mrs Brown (1997)


Image credit: Daily Telegraph, Luna Palace

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