What a cast!

Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Sam Neil, Judy Davis, Jackie Weaver, Rachel Griffiths, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown and Eric Bana. To name a few. That’s the incredible line-up amassed for DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE.

A film critic can sometimes unearth an audience for a film that does not have the vast advertising techniques and budget that ensures a mass audience for a major movie, usually from a studio in Hollywood.

Such an excavator is David Stratton whose exuberance for the wide exhibition of quality films, especially those made in Australia, is extolled in this brilliant exultation of local films, DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE.

Sally Aitken’s superb film could easily have been called Australia: A Cinematic Life such is the marvellous magnitude of movie montage that gives the picture muscle.

But it’s David Stratton’s personal and professional perspective that supplies the prism to focus, observe and revisit the vibrant industry and culture that has evolved on these shores.

Clever choice of clips from a kaleidoscope of Australian films puts David in the picture, figuratively, with characters commenting on his commentary and literally when he shoots on location at Hanging Rock and Broken Hill, two iconic backgrounds for Australian movie making.

Particular resonance for David was Wake In Fright, the main character of which he identified with greatly.

Kenneth Tynan once defined the critic as someone who knew the way but couldn’t drive the car. Well, to a generation of movie goers and television viewers, David Stratton has navigated us through the hits and misses, the must sees and don’t bothers.

Perhaps critics and commentators are back seat drivers but David Stratton can never take the back seat when it comes to championing and chatting, enthusing and encouraging film and film culture, especially our own world class productions.

Not that he hasn’t run foul of certain films – he famously underscored The Castle, and infamously flamed the ire of film maker Geoffrey Wright when he refused to give Romper Stomper a score at all.

This documentary does not shy away from perceptions of pompousness, but any such perception is put in clear and honest perspective – born of passion not pretension – a passion that has flourished for seventy years with the viewing of nearly 26,000 films, most of which he has reviewed for international trade paper Variety, The Australian, or more famously, his two long running TV shows co-hosted with Margaret Pomeranz.

It was Australia that gave David the opportunity to turn his passion into a profession, first as the director of the Sydney Film Festival and then the ensuing media career.

Champion of Campion, nurturer of the Weir career, his high profile has promoted many film makers to establish their own brilliant careers.

DAVID STRATTON: A CINEMATIC LIFE is a celebration of a life, certainly, but made with great gratitude to the extraordinary film makers and actors who created the films that have enriched Australia, and make this film unforgettable.