Arts Festival goes to the Kino

The Kino plays its part in the arts festival with this, one of four films to be shown

This year the Rye Arts Festival is also screening four films at the Kino: John Schlesinger’s film version of Cold Comfort Farm, Prince’s biopic Purple Rain and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence – starring David Bowie,  and Tony Benn; Will and Testament.

Love him or hate him – and the Country frequently did in equal measure – and from ‘dangerous’ left wing politician to national treasure, Tony Benn’s was a life well lived! The film will be shown on September 23, and, co-incidentally, [or maybe not! – Ed.]  two days before what is expected to be a notable Labour Party Conference starts.

This fascinating documentary, written and directed by Skip Kite, is both respectful and nostalgic, using archived material, clippings and photos, with a number of on-camera interviews to get an insight into what made the former Anthony Wedgwood Benn, public school educated and hereditary peer, the 2nd Viscount Stansgate, tick, as well as a truly fascinating history of the man and his times.

The film was released in October 2014 to excellent reviews just months after Tony Benn passed away on March 14 2014, and Benn reveals how his wife Caroline had taught him how to live and how to die.

An exasperated Harold Wilson was driven to say that Benn ‘immatured with age’, but it becomes clear that he actually never lost any of his youthful zest for social justice, and a belief in politics and the political process as a means to effect change. While the ‘national treasure’ label possibly suggests an old man past his sell-by date, Tony Benn delightedly reveals to camera how he had had a recent death threat, thereby providing evidence that he most certainly had not slipped into harmless old man status!

Rye Arts Festival is delighted that the film is to have a short introduction and then a Q&A session afterwards by Michel Duvoisin, the Ryer who wrote the soundtrack music, and this should add further deep insights into the film production process and the artistic collaboration between director and composer, before and during the film, as well at the edit process. Since Michel and Skip have worked on a number of other film projects, they clearly have a partnership that works.

This, and the other three films are just highlights of the 60-plus events comprising theatre, classical and contemporary music, literary talks, historical walks, exhibitions and much more between September 17 and October 1 in Rye. More information is available and tickets can be bought online by going to or telephone the Box Office on 01797 224442 or by dropping into Phillips & Stubbs between 9.30am and 1pm Monday to Saturdays until the end of the Festival.


  1. I have seen the film as I was/am a fan of Tony Benn and would recommend to go and see it whatever political persuasion. That’s the positive.

    Now for the negative which is about the way the music events are advertised in the brochure, mostly the classical ones. We are told who is playing, where and the time but not what is the content of the concert. e.g. Anthony Marwood (violin)/Aleksander Madzar (piano) “They are now set to delight the Rye audience”. With what? Brahms, Mozart, Chopin? One might have preferences.
    The same with Anna Szalucka (piano) or the Busch Trio and others. It says to go to the website but not everyone has a computer or knows how to use one.

    It’s an interesting and varied programme but please, can you try next year to fit in the content of the concerts to make it an easier choice for some. You might of course suggest it is about cutting costs but that is not always the best way. And I am not the only one who has noticed and voiced this. Heidi Foster


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