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2012 Academy Member John Mitchell (Australia)

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Bill Lawrence, Halifax, UK 29. April 2012
David Coles giving a lecture about the life of John Mitchell. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

There were many people who made the 60th Anniversary of Cinerama celebrations at the Widescreen Weekend in Bradford a success, but the contribution made by one man was particularly exceptional.

When the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television was planning to build its new cinema and re-create a Cinerama experience for new audiences, we relied on John Harvey and Willem Bouwmeester. But we knew that on the other side of the globe there was another, very special individual who was already maintaining the flame and keeping Cinerama in the public eye.

John H Mitchell, left school and started work as an assistant projectionist. Later he worked in telecommunications but pursued a passion for cinema, working part time at the local Wollongong drive-in theatres. But it was Cinerama that grabbed his attention.
Further in 70mm reading:

John H Mitchell's Twin Presentations

Widescreen Weekend 2012

Interview with John H. Mitchell, Australia

Mitchell: Gallery of older pictures

In The Picture - Tom Down Under

Gallery highlights:

Academy of the Widescreen Weekend

Widescreen Weekend home

Internet link:

Bill Lawrence presenting, via Skype, the Academy certificate to John Mitchell across the world in Australia. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

When he heard that a storehouse was to be emptied that contained a lot of the Cinerama films he just had to investigate. There he discovered prints of "This Is Cinerama" and "How The West Was Won". Now all he needed was the equipment to show it. His chance came several years later a former Cinerama theatre was being converted into a roller skating ring. A quick negotiation and the equipment was his. Gradually, he saved all the Cinerama and Cinemiracle prints he could, as well as breakdown films and over the years, he found all the parts he needed, and more, and started showing films in his own back garden.

Hi Bill,

I was very pleased to see my good friend John Mitchell acknowledged for his incredible efforts in preserving the original 3 strip format. I have enjoyed many screenings over the years at his home Cinerama cinema.

Brian Walters, Australia
Bill Lawrence talking with John Mitchell via Skype. John thanked the audience and good luck with Brothers Grimm. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Here he would welcome up to 20 friends and guests to watch films on the 20’ x 8‘screen in the open air theatre, up to 3 shows a year for 30 years.
It was a very emotional moment to have John Mitchell appearing on the big screen live from his home in Australia. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Over the years, John has helped many people. When the NMPFT needed a new soundtrack for "How the West Was Won", he happily copied his print and sent it over. He lent prints for the 50th anniversary and this year provided great support with prints of "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm", "South Seas Adventure" and "How the West Was Won". No one who was there will forget it and no one should forget John H Mitchell for making it happen and the years of dedication in preserving Cinerama as a living exhibit.
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Updated 21-01-24