Buxton Film Festival celebrates director

The Buxton Festival of Film returns for a fifth event at Easter, and this year there is a specific focus on the work and career of film and TV director Robert Stevenson (pictured) who was born in the town in 1905.

Stevenson’s best-loved film is Mary Poppins and he had a directing career spanning 40 years, during which time he worked with Hitchcock, Welles and Disney as well as with legendary actors such as Hedy Lamarr, Jane Russell, Boris Karloff and Sean Connery.

There will be 20 full-length feature films shown from April 10-17, alongside an exhibition, pop-up bookstalls and hands-on activities for those who want to get stuck in.

The festival is organised by Buxton Film working in close association with Buxton Opera House.

Keith Savage, trustee of the group, said: “Stevenson is one of those professionals who really ought to be much better known than he is.

“By 1943 he was working in the States and directed what is still one of the best Bronte screen adaptations. The screenplay for Jane Eyre was co-written by Aldous Huxley and stars Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. Brilliantly filmed it is a gothic masterpiece – much more than a tragic love story.”

Jane Eyre is being screened on April 10 – following the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate Stevenson’s association with Buxton.

On the final day of the festival – Easter Monday – there will be a special sing-along screening of Mary Poppins. Audience members are encouraged to dress up as nannies, sweeps, suffragettes or bankers.

Stevenson also directed the first adaptation of Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines in 1937 which featured Paul Robeson. This enjoyable romp screens on April 13.

Among the more recent releases in the Festival are: Moonlight, A United Kingdom, Arrival, Paterson and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. These films have been enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike and are part of a programme that offers something for anyone with an interest in film.

Buxton Film has, for a number of years, run a short film competition. The first winner was Esther May Campbell for her film, September.

Esther will be in Buxton on Good Friday, April 14, for a special screening of her new feature film, Light Years. The film stars singer-songwriter Beth Orton and deals with a range of issues. It is most obviously about a family which struggles to cope with the mother’s early-onset dementia, but also has something to say about life at the edges of town and country in contemporary England.

“Esther, who has also directed Sir Kenneth Branagh as Wallender, will be on hand to talk about her film and answer questions,” said Keith.

The Buxton Film Festival 2017 is supported by the Film Hub North West Central.

For the full Festival programme and information about other events see http://www.buxtonfilm.org.uk.