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The Dulwich Film Festival

A 400 Archive page published in 2019

Monday 17 – Friday 21 June 2019

Tickets are free of charge for all screenings during the Dulwich Film Festival and must be booked in advance.


‘What is the most important invention of the twentieth century?’ is the sort of question which is impossible to answer, but fun to consider. At least one person I know would answer ‘cinema’. Born late in the nineteenth century, film swiftly established itself as a global entertainment industry. Visiting the cinema, whether it be a grand Art Deco Odeon, seedy flea-pit or arthouse studio, forms part of the life experience of all of us.   

Cinema’s influence is everywhere, most especially in our language and our collective culture, and Alleynians have played a conspicuous and varied role in it. Some, like Clive Brook, managed successfully to make the transition from silent films to talkies, just like his South London contemporary, Charlie Chaplin. Others have forged careers as screenwriters (Arthur Wimperis), Artistic Directors (Nick Gottschalk) and actors (most famously Chiwetel Ejiofor). Some found their calling while still at school, and few school productions can have featured two Oscar-nominated actors in their cast list, as did the College’s Measure for Measure in 1993 (Ejiofor and Sally Hawkins of JAGS).   

Many Dulwich writers have seen their words translated into film - Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and many others, Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 - while others including P.G. Wodehouse, Chandler and CS Forester wrote screenplays for Hollywood.   

However, the greatest of Alleynians in this field has to be Michael Powell. His work with Emeric Pressberger is one of the high points of British cinema and we are delighted that this festival should formally commence with a showing of his A Matter of Life and Death, introduced by the doyen of film historians, David Thomson OA.   

We hope that you enjoy the films that are being screened at Dulwich this week.  We hope the festival plays its part in inspiring the next David Thomson, or Chiwetel Ejiofor, or Michael Powell.  

Dr Joe Spence  
The Master, Dulwich College 

Dulwich goes to the Cinema 

400 is impressive in a school – so long as it is smart enough to stay youthful, bold and even foolish sometimes. To that end, Alleynians have one precious reminder: their school was founded not by a great general after war, not by a crucial mathematician or an infinite philanthropist. The school was established by an actor – a pretender, a make-believer, the man who created the role of Faustus in 1593. God and glory are all very well in running a good school, but never forget the need for magic and theatre.  

So cinema (while not in the curriculum, beside Latin, Geography and Gym) has been a fruitful field for Alleynians. A man born before moving pictures, P.G. Wodehouse, was so full of fun that movies became one of his media. Can’t we assume that Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe learned his wit  and his name in SE21? Moreover, Dulwich produced a film genius, Michael Powell, as well as another magnificent actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor. We treasure Shackleton’s boat, but do not forget C. S. Forester’s African Queen. And bear in mind, kids of today, thinking of taking a shot at pictures and pretending, that Ned Alleyn was a desperate scrambler trying to put on a show. Alleynians are taught to be quick on their feet.  

David Thomson OA (1951 - 1959)

Dulwich College would like to thank our generous sponsor Gary Sugarman OA without which this event would not be possible.

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