David Stratton reflects on reactions to ‘A Cinematic Life’
George Miller and David Stratton.
David Stratton will serve on the competition jury of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, which runs from August 30 – September 9.
IF asked the former ABC and SBS movie host about his fellow jurors and reactions to the documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life.
Q: I know you used to watch as many as five films a day in Cannes. So how many films do you expect to see in total over 11 days in Venice?
A: I plan to see many more than the competition films I’m obliged to see – five per day if I can manage it.
Q: Which ones are you most looking forward to?
A: Aside from the competition films, which I shouldn’t speculate about, I’m looking forward to seeing the Australian films and, since I’m a Judi Dench fan, Victoria and Abdul.
Q: Annette Bening is president of the jury and your fellow jury members include Edgar Wright, Rebecca Hall and Hungarian director and screenwriter Ildikó Enyedi. You are fans of their work? Have you met any of them?
A: As it happens I’m a fan of all of them. I’ve interviewed Annette and Rebecca. Edgar Wright went to uni with my niece and they were friends there. I think Baby Driver is his best film to date. And when I saw Enyedi’s My 20th Century in Budapest back in the 90s I loved it at first sight – and just purchased the Blu-ray. I was sorry to miss both Ildiko and Edgar when they were in Sydney recently, so it will be great being on the jury with them.
Q: John Landis is president of the international jury of Venice Virtual Reality. What is your favourite Landis film?
A: I’m a big fan of An American Werewolf in London and also of Trading Places. The Blues Brothers is fun too.
Q: Sally Aitken’s 3-part documentary David Stratton: A Cinematic Life drew sizable audiences on ABCTV. What feedback did you get from viewers? I assume some were surprised at revelations such as your parents feeling shattered when you migrated to Australia?
A: Feedback from ABC viewers was very gratifying; I received lots of letters, all of them positive.
Q: In his review of the feature film version, The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Dalton described it as unashamedly partial but agreeably warm-hearted, opining, “For a film notionally about criticism, A Cinematic Life is oddly uncritical, offering zero insights into Stratton’s working methods, private life or broader cultural and political views.” Fair criticism?
A: I read all the reviews and found them all of interest. I don’t know Stephen Dalton but I appreciate his views on the film. I can be blamed for the omissions he mentions, because I made it clear from the start that I didn’t want to include material about my private life in the present (family history was OK), and political views. I doubt the ABC would have liked those!
The aim of both the cinema and TV versions was to encourage interest in the high quality Australian films of the past and present. Feedback suggests Sally achieved that, and you can’t ask for more than achieving your basic aims.