Well before she and fellow film critic David Stratton began their endearingly fractious TV partnership, the movie buff was creating cinematic memories.
1970: I went to Vienna because I was in the middle of a degree in German and I wanted to go to a German-speaking country to get some fluency. I found this amazing apartment in Grinzing, near the Vienna Woods. It was part of a monastery built in the 12th century. I bought my first sports car in Vienna, a Sunbeam Alpine. I had a very important man in my life there and ended up going to a number of Communist Party congresses in Bucharest and Zagreb. Vienna in those days was full of old people; the young had gone to work in Switzerland or Germany. It was the era of the miniskirt and old ladies would hiss and spit at you on the street. It was very old-fashioned but it was a city full of music with fabulous performances every night. It was pretty wonderful and a very important period in my life.
1980: When I started work at SBS, I took my kids, Felix and Joshua, who were then six and eight, on a seven-week holiday to India. For part of it, we rented a houseboat on Nigeen Lake [a section of Dal Lake] in Kashmir and used it as a base. The kids instantly bonded with the local children, playing cricket and paddling canoes. Josh fell into the water, fully clothed, every day. Venturing out from the lake, we went on a pony trek about 4000 metres up into the Himalaya. I told the kids we were going in search of the yeti and we wove stories into the adventure. We caught trout in pristine streams and cooked them over a fire. We just had tents, sleeping bags and hot-water bottles. Josh lost a tooth and we had a little burial ceremony. His tooth is still up in the Himalaya somewhere.
1990: I’d been doing The Movie Show with David Stratton on SBS for four years but we did it on a shoestring and I’d never been to a film festival. David said that before I went to Cannes, I should go to Venice, which is gentler. A launch from the airport to the Lido was about $100 so I got a bus to Venice then a vaporetto [water taxi] up the Grand Canal. It was five o’clock on a summer afternoon. Shadows were cast over the palazzi… and suddenly there was the Guggenheim. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. The festival gave us accommodation in the Grand Hôtel des Bains, where Death in Venice was shot. Every year I’d think, “Please don’t change!” But in 2010 they turned half of it into apartments. This is the first year of the past 25 that I’m not in Venice and I’m so sad. I miss it so much. ￼
Margaret Pomeranz is a patron of the 2015 Adelaide Film Festival (October 15-25).