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Movie maker hosts charity night
A DIRECTOR who grew up in Oxford is returning home for the premiere of his latest film, to benefit two charities.
Mat Whitecross, 35, will be showing the film Ashes, starring Ray Winstone and Jim Sturgess tomorrow at the Simpkins Lee Theatre, Lady Margaret Hall.
The former Wolvercote School and Magdalen College School pupil is flying in from his latest TV project in Hungary to present the film.
The screening will raise money for refugee charity Open Door, which is based in Cowley Road and helps refugees to settle in Oxford.
Funds raised will be shared with Age UK, which provides information, support and advice to old people.
Mr Whitecross said: “I spent all my life up until university in Oxford.
“It is a real honour and a privilege to be able to bring the film back home.
“When I was very young I lived near the Ultimate Picture Palace on Jeune Street.
“In the first three years of my life my mother took me to the cinema and I may have got the film bug there.
“Later I started working at the Phoenix Cinema. Everyone mucks in there and I didn’t get to see all the films but I did watch them now and again.”
His mother Cristina, who still lives in North Oxford, and his brother Tom, who lives in London, are coming along for the event.
Mrs Whitecross, 70, who works for Oxford University Press in linguistics, said: “It is absolutely lovely that he is showing the film in Oxford.
“I have seen the film several times but it is really very nice that he is going to show it here.”
Mr Whitecross is known for directing 2010 movie Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll and 2006’s The Road to Guantanamo.
He has also directed a number of top rock band Coldplay’s videos.
In his latest film, Ray Winstone plays an Alzheimer’s patient who goes on the run.
Mr Whitecross is pleased the sneak preview will help raise money for two good causes. He said: “It is massively important for me. Alzheimers in particular is something that affects more and more people. Also my parents were refugees and came from Argentina to England.”
Doors open at 6pm and the film starts at 7pm. Afterwards there will be a question and answer session with Mr Whitecross, writer Paul Viragh and actress Jodie Whitakker.
The preview screening was organised by Sue Snelders, a charity development worker with Age UK and Refugee Resource.
Last year she organised a movie premiere of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at the theatre.
Ms Snelders, 53, who lives off Cowley Road in East Oxford, said: “To see a film before it is released – you only get that in London or at a film festival.
“The Q&A is just the icing on the cake. It is really nice for them to all give up their time.”
Tickets cost £30 or £15 for students and the price includes a drinks reception and buffet.
The DVD is due to be released in the UK on January 28.