Chiswick In Film festival will be back next year

Video above: Downton Abbey actors Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol announcing the news that the film festival will be back in 2023

Inaugural Chiswick In Film festival “a great success”

As the 2022 Chiswick In Film festival came to a close on Sunday night (2 October), Chiswick Cinema announced the festival would be back next year. Downton Abbey actors Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol made the announcement on social media.

The festival is a collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar, film editor Andrea Carnevali, script writer Rob Sprackling and Chiswick Cinema, but it is the cinema which has footed the bills. Opening the festival on Friday night, Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne told the audience if the festival broke even we would be able to do it again and if it made a profit we would be able to donate come money to charity as well.

Image above: Sarah Miles in The Servant; STUDIOCANAL; Sarah Miles at the Chiswick In Film festival; photograph Roger Green

Film star Sarah Miles make a surprise guest appearance

Several of the sessions were sold out. The programme opened with The Servant (1963) on Friday night, starring Dirk Bogarde and Sarah Miles. The audience was delighted as Sarah Miles, a surprise guest, took to the stage to introduce the film.

READ ALSO: Film star Sarah Miles makes surprise guest appearance at Chiswick In Film festival

Image above: Aisling Walsh talking to Sandra Parsons at the Chiswick In Film festival; photograph Roger Green

Aisling Walsh talks about her film Maudie (2016)

Maudie, the true story of artist Maud Lewis, has won a slate of awards in 2018 – Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing and Best Costume Design from the Canadian Screen Awards; Best Director, Best International Actor and Best Production Design from the Irish Film & Television Awards; British Actress of the Year from theh London Film Critics’ Circle, to name just some.

Starring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins, the film was shot in Newfoundland and Labrador and directed by Irish director Aisling Walsh, who lives in Chiswick.

The determination with which Maud (Sally Hawkins) battles with rheumatoid arthritis to live life independently of her mean-spirited family, especially her avaricious brother, and the cruelty to which she is subjected is heart-breaking.

She answers an advert in the local store for a maid, posted by an emotionally closed man who lives alone working as a fish peddlar and living in a tiny cottage in the wilds of Nova Scotia. She ends up marrying him and becoming a farmous artist whose work hangs in the White House.

Aisling told the audience how she had become involved in the project some way down the line and what it was like working with two such great actors and in such a wild and beautiful but unforgiving landscape. She was interviewed by fellow Chiswick resident, Daily Mail’s Books editor Sandra Parsons.

READ ALSO: Director Aisling Walks talks about her film Maudie at the Chiswick In Film festival

Image above: Phyllis Logan. Sarah Wilson, Bridget Osborne, Jo Robinson, Sue Finch and Rebecca Frayn; photograph Roger Green

Misbehaviour at the Chiswick In Film festival

We were transported back to the 1970s on Saturday night as three of the protesters who disrupted the 1970 Miss World contest came and gave their account of how it went down, after a screening of 2020 film Misbehaviour.

Creator of the film and lead scriptwriter Rebecca Frayn, producer Suzanne Mackie and actor Phyllis Logan joined the three protesters, Sarah Wilson, Jo Robinson and Sue Finch for a Q&A with myself, Bridget Osborne, in front of a packed auditorium. Their accounts were nothing short of insprational, as several of the audience told them.

READ ALSO: Miss World protesters come to Chiswick In Film festival

Image above: Andrea Carnevali and Rob Strackling at the Gnomeo & Juliet screening

Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?  A garden gnome called Juliet, who belongs in a garden full of red ceramic garden gnomes, whose owner is at war with the neighbour, whose garden is populated by blue gnomes.

These Montagues and Capulets sport pointy hats rather than doublets and cloaks and their choice of weapon is a lawnmower rather than a rapier. Other than that the story is much the same until the animated children’s film comes to the end, where there is one major difference from Shakespeare’s version – this one has a happy ending.

I know it sounds corny but it was really funny, with quickfire laugh-out-loud jokes which kids and parents appreciated, sometimes together, sometimes separately.

Image above: Gnomeo and Juliet; Disney

Agent thought Americans wouldn’t ‘get’ garden gnomes

Creator Rob Sprackling described how he and his writing partner John Smith spent three months writing the script, only to put it in a drawer for a year when his agent was adamant it would not sell in the US because Americans would not ‘get’ garden gnomes.

Some time later they decided to give it another go. Another agent offered it to Disney and within two days they had sold it. The film earned $193.9 million worldwide and the writing team was nominated for an Annie award (animation) for best feature length script.

The cast is amazing: James McAvoy and Emily Blunt lead a list which includes Michael Caine as Lord Redbrick, leader of the Red gnomes and Juliet’s father; Maggie Smith as Lady Bluebury, leader of the Blue gnomes and Gnomeo’s widowed mother; Stephen Merchant as Paris; Julie Walters as Ms Montague, owner of the Blue garden; Richard Wilson as her fractious neighbour Mr Capulet, owner of the Red garden; Ozzy Osbourne as a fawn and Patrick Stewart as a statue of William Shakespeare.

The executive producer was Elton John, whose music appears throughout.

Rob talked a bit also about his latest project, another children’s animation, a film script about flamingoes, for which apparently he has a soft spot. You heard it here first …

Image above: Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde in Darling

Darling (1965)

We showed Darling on Sunday (2 October) – the 1965 film with Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde in which the beautiful but amoral model Diana Scott (Julie Christie) sleeps her way to the top of the London fashion scene at the height of the Swinging Sixties, first of all shacking up with literary interviewer and director for television arts programmes Robert Gold, (Dirk Bogarde), then getting together with advertising executive Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey). Beautiful people beautifully shot.

READ ALSO: Chiswick In Film – Darling

Image above: The old Council Chamber at Chiswick House as a Victorian artist’s studio in Dorian Gray; photograph Dennis Firminger

A potted film history of Chiswick

Before the film, Dennis Firminger, Film Officer for LB Hounslow for nearly 15 years until 2017, took us through a brief history of filming in Chiswick. His office was in Chiswick Town Hall, which has been the location for a Victorian artist’s studio in Dorian Gray (2009), a school hall and a medical room in Never Let Me Go (2010) and a town hall in Downton Abbey.

TV series New Tricks and Silent Witness were regular visitors he said and The Thick of It used Chiswick Library as the exterior of a police station when a Cabinet Minister was required to check in to assist the police with their enquiries.

Image above: The Classic bridge at Chiswick House Gardens doubling as Central Park for De-Lovely ; photograph Dennis Firminger

Scenes of seduction and an African coup

City of Westminster Sports Ground on Hartington Rd became the scene of an African coup on 2004. Jimmy Nail was forced to make a quick exit in Auf Wiedersein Pet and the sports ground had helipcopters taking off and people running around very convincingly.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall took an evening to film an emotional scene at St Michael & All Angels Church for the mni series Parades End in 2011.

The Classic Bridge at Chiswick House and Gardens has doubled as New York’s Central Park in the musical bio-pic about Cole Porter, De-Lovely (2004) and the area around the bridge and the lake has also been Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in Vanity Fair (2004), with Reese Witherspoon.

Image above: Torin Douglas, Lesley Nicol, Phyllis Logan, gareth Neame and Simon Curtis at the Chiswick In Film festival; photogaph Roger Green

Downton Abbey: A New Era

On Sunday night we brought the first Chiswick In Film festival to a close with a screening of Downton Abbey: A New Era and a Q&A chaired by Torin Douglas with cast members Lesley Nicol (Mrs Patmore) and Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes), producer Gareth Neame and director Simon Curtis, all of whom live in Chiswick.

READ ALSO: If ever there were a Chiswick film this is it: Downton Abbey – A New Era

Michelle Obama watched it with her daughters on Air Force One and Hilary Clinton watched it with Bill and Chelsea on Sunday nights in their pyjamas, such is the enduring appeal of the TV series and now the films. This little nugget came from the panel when they came along on Sunday night.

READ ALSO: Cast members, producer and director of Downton Abbey: A New Era at the Chiswick In Film festival

Image above: Bridget Osborne, Andrea Carnevali, Kathryn Smith, (General Manager Chiswick Cinema), Chris Parker (PR & Marketing Chiswick Cinema), Rob Sprackling

What will we show next year?

We have had a brilliant weekend and have received a lot of lovely feedback from audience members. I am delighted we will be following in the slipstream of the Chiswick Book Festival and doing it all again next year. I have a few ideas …

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Film star Sarah Miles makes surprise guest appearance at Chiswick In Film festival

See also: Director Aisling Walsh talks about her award-winning film Maudie at the Chiswick In Film festival

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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