Adrian Wootton


Presented by MIFF 37ºSouth Market & Accelerator, Adrian Wootton returns exclusively to Melbourne for another series of his acclaimed Illustrated Film Talks this year focusing on the Hollywood Golden Age and four legendary creative personalities and performers, who made and appeared in some of the greatest films in Tinseltown history. Extraordinarily, all four of these Hollywood legends started their careers pre-Second World War, shone in the Golden Age of the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood and endured to sustain their careers into the 1970s and 1980s.

A former Director of the London Film Festival, British Film Institute and the UK’s National Film Theatre, Wootton is CEO of Film London & The British Film Commission, Director of the Crime Scene Festival, and a program advisor to the Venice Film Festival, London Film Festival and Italy’s Courmayeur Noir Fest. Wootton has also served as BFI Head of Exhibition, Director of Nottingham’s Broadway Media Centre, Director of the Bradford Playhouse, contributor to the Guardian, Sight & Sound, BBC Radio, Visiting Professor of Film & Media at Norwich University and received an Honorary Doctorate by The University of East Anglia.

Interview with Adrian Wootton 

Each lecture is $15 (MIFF passes not valid).


FRED ASTAIRE: Tapping from Top Hat to living colour

Thursday 06 August: 5pm to 6.30pm; Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library

One of cinema’s greatest musical dance performers, Fred Astaire (1899-1987) broke into film in the early 1930s and became a superstar when paired with Ginger Rogers for several hugely popular films, including Top Hat, The Gay Divorcee and Shall We Dance. But this was just part of Astaire’s extraordinarily successful and artistically innovative half-century career. Having switched from musical theatre to movies, he moved from RKO to MGM (with colour extravaganzas like Bandwagon), from black & white to colour, and then prolonged his career in the 1960s and 1970s with US TV appearances. Wootton surveys the depth and breadth of the outstanding career of a performer who changed his dance partners seemingly at will but still always ignited the screen with breathtaking artistry and grace.


DAVID NIVEN: Blighty’s Hollywood star

Friday 07 August: 5pm to 6.30pm; Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library

The urbane, witty and likeable David Niven (1910-1983) was one of the few Brits to become a genuine Hollywood movie star of the Golden Age and be welcomed and befriended by the likes of Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. His Best Actor Oscar-winning turn in Separate Tables and performances in the likes of Wuthering Heights and Matter of Life and Death reveal a star quality and passionate performer of real depth. Penning two acclaimed autobiographies later in life, Niven also proved a great chronicler of old Hollywood. With multiple clips and slides, Wootton tells the story of a charming and unassuming but rather brilliant actor who was a significant figure in British and American movie history.


JOHN HUSTON: American Cinema Giant 

Saturday 08 August: 10.30am to 12 noon; Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library

One of American cinema’s greatest filmmakers, John Huston (1906-1987) wrote, directed and produced more than 40 feature films in addition to acting. Key in making a star of Humphrey Bogart, with films like The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen, Huston also made many distinctive and original independent movies, such as The Man Who Would be King and Wise Blood and finished with The Dead, his masterpiece starring his daughter Anjelica Huston. Drawing on clips and photographs, and his interviews with Anjelica Huston, Wootton reveals the unique personality and great talent of John Huston – a larger-than-life, hunting, shooting, fishing maverick man’s man who is the subject of many rich stories.


BETTE DAVIS: Tinsel-town’s Feisty Grand Dame

Sunday 09 August: 10.30 to 12 noon; Village Roadshow Theatrette at the State Library

One of the grand dames of classic Hollywood Cinema, Bette Davis (1908-1989) often fought the Studios, battled for her independence and often came out on top, delivering legendary (and multi-Oscar-winning performances) in a glittering 50-year career of some 120 screen appearances. In this lavishly illustrated talk, Wootton recounts the rich history of Davis’s screen triumphs, including the likes of Dangerous, Now Voyager, All About Eve and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and reveals the tales behind the movies and her own, often mercurial, personality and chaotic personal life.