Dino-mite movie night on Jurassic rocks at Swanage

Purbeck Film Festival showed it is in no danger of becoming extinct with a special 30th anniversary outdoor screening of Jurassic Park on the Swanage cliffs where dinosaurs once roamed.

The longest running rural film festival in Britain is getting ready to break new records in autumn with more than 80 movies, talks and workshops throughout Purbeck, but in the meantime is reeling audiences in with a series of Outdoor August events.


The country park at Durlston is located at the start of Purbeck’s Jurassic Coast

Films tie in with stunning locations

Movies specially chosen to tie in with some stunning Purbeck locations are playing every weekend until the schools return and although summer weather has been less than perfect, organisers are delighted by the response so far.

A large crowd gathered at Durlston Country Park, Swanage, on Saturday 19th August to watch the original Jurassic Park movie from 1993, starring Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, lots of velociraptors and one unforgettable T-Rex.

The movie lot, a field next to Durlston’s Learning Centre, was chosen so that the audience was sitting directly above rocks holding remains of the flying lizards, giant crocodiles and dinosaurs of the late Jurassic era.


A T-Rex terrifies the staff and visitors of Jurassic Park after she escapes her pen

Dinosaur bones under your feet

Claire Burns, of the Purbeck Film Festival, said:

“Jurassic Park was the biggest grossing movie for most of the 1990s and changed cinema forever. The computer generated special effects were groundbreaking at the time and still hold up today as they are used sparingly, and in conjunction with state-of-the-art model effects.

“It really was adventure story telling at its best as Steven Spielberg slowly built up tension before the devastating T-Rex attack – unthinkable in a blockbuster today where the audience is pummeled into submission with wave after wave of frenetic action sequences.

“And there was really no better place to watch the film than outdoors on Durlston’s stunning Jurassic Coast, where dinosaur bones could be right under your feet!

“Many of the families who came along to watch brought a picnic, camping chairs and a blanket and experienced the magic of the silver screen under the Jurassic Coast stars.”


Two films will be shown this August in the 11th Century surroundings of Corfe Castle


Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves will be shown a stone’s throw from Corfe’s own dungeons

Dungeons and Dragons at Corfe Castle

The first two films to be screened for the summer season were Top Gun: Maverick at Wareham Rugby Club and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet in the romantic settings of the Knoll House Hotel at Studland.

Still to come in the Outdoor August season are two much more modern movies – both released in 2023 – being shown in the outer bailey of the 11th century castle ruins at Corfe Castle.

The first is the Super Mario Bros. Movie starring Chris Prat and Jack Black on Friday 25th August 2023, and the following night sees a screening of Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves – within sight of Corfe Castle’s oubliette dungeon where King John starved 22 rival knights to death in 1202.

The final film of the summer season is on Saturday 2nd September at Carey’s Secret Garden near Wareham, where the film of choice is very aptly the 1993 version of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless story The Secret Garden.


The Secret Garden is the ideal choice for outdoor cinema at Carey’s Secret Garden

Perfect match for a rewilded garden

Claire Burns said:

“The Secret Garden is a classic of Edwardian children’s fiction that has troubled orphan Mary sent to her uncle’s huge country mansion where she is drawn to a neglected private garden.

“This is widely regarded as the finest film version of the book, featuring natural performances from the children, a Bafta nominated turn by Dame Maggie Smith and the vivid and elegant camerawork of ace cinematographer Sir Roger Deakins.

“It is a story about the healing properties of nature, and so is perfectly matched with the regenerative tranquility of Carey’s rewilded garden. We can’t wait to be part of a very special evening to round off our summer season!”

Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet was shown at the Knoll House Hotel, Studland

Longest running rural film festival in Britain

A full programme for the full Purbeck Film Festival, running from Friday 20th October to Saturday 4th November 2023, is still being put together and will be revealed in the next few weeks.

It is expected to set new records for the number of events, locations and viewers – more than 5,500 people supported the festival in 2022.

It is the longest running rural film festival in Britain, having begun in 1996 with screenings at the Mowlem and the Rex Cinema in Wareham to celebrate 100 years of cinema. The following year it received a National Lottery grant which enabled it to screen 21 films and buy the Rex Cinema.

Award winning actor and theatre director Sir Mark Rylance agreed to be a patron of the Purbeck Film Festival in 2022

Award winning actor Sir Mark Rylance, here in Wolf Hall, agreed to be a patron of the Purbeck Film Festival in 2022

Venues from village halls to churches

Claire Burns added:

“The festival has always seen itself as a community resource and offers a cinematic umbrella to a great number of venues ranging from village halls, churches, hotels and community centres.

“The last 27 years of successful screenings has meant the strong support from the British Film Institute, who value our commitment to world cinema as well as independent British films.

“We aim to provide a rich variety of cinematic experiences across a rural area which does not have easy access to foreign language, independent and classic films.

“Our festival provides a perfect opportunity to compare and contrast stories and styles across a wide range of films and offers the chance to increase our knowledge of the cinema, opening our minds to new or different worlds.”

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