David Stratton

David James Stratton AM (born 10 September 1939) is an English-Australian award-winning film critic, as both a journalist and interviewer, film historian and lecturer and television personality and producer.

David Stratton AM
Stratton in 2012
David James Stratton

(1939-09-10) 10 September 1939
OccupationFilm critic (At the Movies)
EmployerAustralian Broadcasting Corporation
Known forFilm critic, journalist and interviewer, television presenter and television producer

Life and career

Born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England in 1939, Stratton was sent to Hampshire to see out the war years with his grandmother, an avid filmgoer, where he was taken to the local cinemas regularly and saw a diverse range of movies. He attended Chafyn Grove School from 1948 to 1953 as a boarder.[1] He saw his first foreign film at Bath in 1955—Italian romantic comedy Bread, Love and Dreams. That was soon followed by Akira Kurosawa's Japanese adventure drama classic Seven Samurai tracked down in Birmingham. At the age of 19, he founded the Melksham and District Film Society.[2] David arrived in Australia in 1963, and soon became involved with the local film society movement. He directed the Sydney Film Festival from 1966 until 1983. At the time, he was the subject of surveillance by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, due to the festival showing Soviet films and his late-1960s visit to Russia. This information was not made public until January 2014.[3]

A highly regarded expert on international cinema, particularly French cinema, Stratton was President of FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Juries in Cannes (twice) and Venice.[2] He was also a member of the jury at the 32nd Berlin International Film Festival in 1982.[4]

Stratton worked for SBS from 1980, acting as their film consultant and introducing the SBS Cinema Classic and Movie of the Week for 24 weeks a year. From 1986 onwards Stratton co-hosted the long-running SBS TV program The Movie Show with Margaret Pomeranz, who was also the show's original producer. Stratton and Pomeranz left SBS in 2004. From 2004 Stratton and Pomeranz have co-hosted the ABC film show, At the Movies. On 16 September 2014, Stratton and Pomeranz announced they would be retiring at the end of the 2014 series. The ABC confirmed that the series would end with the last episode to be broadcast on 9 December 2014.[5]

Stratton has stated on numerous occasions that his favourite film of all time is Singin' in the Rain. He currently writes reviews for The Australian newspaper and formerly did so for the US film industry magazine Variety. He also does film reviews for TV Week, where he has been for a number of years. He lectures in film history at the University of Sydney's Centre for Continuing Education.[6] In 2008 he released his autobiography called I Peed on Fellini, a reference to a drunken attempt to shake director Federico Fellini's hand while using a urinal.

Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz have played an important role in challenging the often heavy-handed decisions of the Australian Classification Board throughout their career.[7][8]

The documentary film David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, written and directed by Sally Aitken, was released in 2017, and re-edited for television, featuring interviews with Stratton about his life and with actors, directors, producers representing Australian cinema since the 1960s.[9][10] A preliminary version of the film was first released at the 2016 Adelaide Film Festival as David Stratton's Stories of Australian Cinema, a "work in progress screening...a celebration of 110 years of Australian Cinema history and its creators".[11]

Other appearances



  1. Stratton, David (2008). I Peed on Fellini: Recollections of a life in film. Sydney: William Heinemann. ISBN 9781741666199.
  2. "David Stratton". Random House Australia. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  3. Fenely, Rick (4 January 2014). "David Stratton oblivious he's been cast as a spy". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  4. "Berlinale 1982: Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  5. "Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton roll end credits on 28-year film review partnership; At The Movies will not return to ABC in 2015". ABC News. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  6. "A History of World Cinema Course with David Stratton". Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  7. "Lies and Damned Censorship" by Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile (3 July 2003)
  8. "Film board chief on the defensive over banned movie" by Suzanne Carbone, The Age (5 July 2003)
  9. Cerabona, Ron (18 February 2017). "Film critic David Stratton gets his own movie at last". Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. David Stratton: A Cinematic Life (2017) on IMDb
  11. "David Stratton's Stories of Australian Cinema". Adelaide Film Festival. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  12. "It's an Honour – Stratton". Australian Government. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
  13. "French Embassy media release 04/2001". Embassy of France in Australia. 22 March 2001. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  14. "David Stratton to receive honorary doctorate". The University of Sydney. 7 June 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  15. Australia Day honours 2015: David Stratton won our hearts


  • The Last New Wave: The Australian film revival (1980). ISBN 0-207-14146-0
  • The Avocado Plantation: Boom and bust in the Australian film industry (1990). ISBN 0-7329-0250-9
  • Stratton, David (3 March 2008). I Peed on Fellini: Recollections of a life in film. William Heinemann Australia. ISBN 1-74166-619-8.
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