Cate Blanchett And The Chichester International Film Festival


Worthing local and film critic Pamela Hutchinson tells Natalie Li about the thrill of the Chichester International Film Festival and her upcoming retrospective on film star Cate Blanchett

As a little girl growing up in the Wirral in North West England, Pamela Hutchinson was always drawn to old black and white films on the TV. But the freelance writer and film historian admits that cinema trips were not a regular occurrence.

“We just didn’t go to see films, but I do remember my very first cinema trip to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which was far too scary for me,” she smiles. “I grew up experiencing the inevitable childhood crush on Harrison Ford, so I wasn’t totally scarred for life. As a teenager I was a vivacious cinema goer – immersed in French movies, but a slow starter with film.”

Film critic Pamela Hutchinson

Fast forward more than 30 years and Pamela is often called upon for her specialist knowledge on silent film and women in film. Last year she presented a retrospective on British actor Olivia Colman at the Chichester International Film Festival and returns this month with her illustrated talk on Australian Oscar-winning actor Cate Blanchett. 

“In my opinion Cate Blanchett is one of the most fascinating film stars and her performances go above and beyond what her contemporaries are doing. During my talk I will dive into what makes her so compelling – she has the imperious qualities of the great, golden age film stars like Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis. Her roles are very complex, so it’ll be a fun dive into what makes her characters so enthralling and a great opportunity to watch some of her best performances,” explains Pamela, who writes for titles including Sight and Sound, Empire, The Guardian and regularly appears on BBC radio.

Pamela’s retrospective will explore Blanchett’s roles in films such as The Talented Mr Ripley, Notes on a Scandal, Elizabeth, Blue Jasmine, Manifesto, Carol, Nightmare Alley and Tár.

Tar Z Gjyh
Cate Blanchett in Tar

Despite having never interviewed Blanchett, it remains the ultimate dream for Pamela. “I would absolutely love to talk to her. I was bowled over by her performance of Lydia Tár, I want to ask her everything about how she created such a character. There is a sinister and terrifying aspect to some of her characters like abusive maestro Tár to seductive older women in Carol, much as they are glamorous and attractive. I love the fine line between beauty and horror.”

Pamela’s fascination and awe of this blend of melodrama and macabre led her to pen an in-depth study on the 1948 film The Red Shoes for the BFI Film Classics series, due to be released in October. “I am completely obsessed with the Red Shoes – every time I come back to it, I find something new, so beautiful and terrifying. My new book will examine the film’s use of technicolour, spectacle, music and, of course, dance.”

With her focus on the release of her upcoming book, Pamela, who lives close to Worthing beach, is very much looking forward to Chichester’s annual film extravaganza, which runs from 4-27 August. “I lived in London for many years, but since moving to West Sussex three years ago I have discovered that I am spoilt for choice when it comes to film. We forget how much is going on outside of the capital. We have wonderful cinemas in Chichester, and I love visiting the Connaught Cinema in Worthing and there’s plenty on in Brighton, as well as the Slindon Cinema in Arundel, which shows 35mm film shows. Chichester International Film Festival is the real highlight of the year for me.”

An outdoor screening at the Chichester International Film Festival

As for where you’ll find Pamela at this year’s festival there is no surprise there. “People are still fascinated by silent film – those mysteries and experiments lured me in,” she says. “I love my silent films. I am excited that there’ll be silent films with live music at Chichester this year – I always get a thrill so that’s where you’ll find me.”

Two to watch

Our pick of the best of the Chichester International Film Festival

The Chichester International Film Festival has grown over 30 years to become one of the most ambitious film festivals around. With over 130 screenings including exclusive premieres and previews from around the globe as well as open air events, silent films accompanied by live music and inspiring talks from special guests, there’s plenty to see, watch, and do.

A retrospective on Hugh Bonneville

20 August

Hugh Bonneville

Chichester International Film Festival has welcomed notable movie stars over the years from Ralph Fiennes to Kathleen Turner. This year is no exception as British actor and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville attends the festival on 20 August for a Q&A session. A retrospective on the award-winning actor and West Sussex local will showcase an array of his TV and film highlights such as Iris, Love Again, Stage Beauty, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, French Film, Viceroy’s House, and Netflix’s I Came By alongside comedy series Twenty Twelve, British sitcom W1A and 2023 BBC drama The Gold. A screening of To Olivia, a British biographical drama in which he plays the role of Roald Dahl alongside Keeley Hawes, will accompany the retrospective. 

Priory Park Open Air Screenings

4-6 August 2023

Box Out Asteroid City
Asteroid City

Cosy up with a picnic for a magical evening as Chichester’s beautiful Priory Park hosts the festival’s three open-air screenings against the backdrop of Chichester Cathedral and the historical Guildhall. Wes Anderson’s 1950s sci-fi Asteroid City starring Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks kicks off on 4 June. 

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny sees Harrison Ford reprising his role as the hero archaeologist in his fifth adventure on 5 June. Finally, an original new Disney and Pixar feature film, Elemental, from director Peter Sohn, depicts a world where creatures from the four elements fire, water, land, and air residents live together.

Other dedicated events programmed will include a retrospective and celebration of the 150th anniversary of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff plus a tribute to director Jean-Luc Godard, a pioneer of the 1960s French New Wave film movement.


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