In conversation with Trevor Johnston, Glasgow Film Theatre Director Ken Ingles outlines why
he doesn’t want to turn the Mayfest cinema programme into a fully-ﬂedged film festival.
From an Edinburgh perspective. a cursory glance at the 1990 Mayfest film programme might leave you thinking that it was all rather old-hat. Since the cancellation (just after the brochure went to press) of Palace Pictures‘ world premiere of their Glasgow-shot William Mcllvanney adaptation The Big Man. the three major Mayfest first-run movies — Jane Campion‘s striking domestic tragi-comedy Sweetie (see Film Preview this issue). Patrice Leconte‘s delicious Simeonon
Leave me alone: from Jane Campinii's weetie.
adaptation Monsieur Hire. and cult Chilean auteur Alexandro Jodorowsky‘s luridly imaginative Santa Sangre — will all have played Edinburgh Filmhouse before gracing the GET. While it's appropriate at this point to mention that Santa Sangre’s distributors had promised Glasgow the first Scottish screenings before surreptitiously offering the film to Edinburgh. the Mayfest season still has that seen-it-before look.
The point here is not to indulge in the usual Edinburgh versus Glasgow culture contest, but to ponder how in a self-consciously accessible arts festival. that the cinema element. given that the medium is the most open ofall forms ofcultural activity. should be left looking a little like the poor relation. Consider the current Brighton Festival. where among the movie events are included a whole slew ofspecial previews, David Hayman‘s The Silent Scream among
them. and a series ofvisits by Eastern European directors of the stature of Krzysztof Kieslowski. Again Glasgow fares poorly in comparison.
However. as the man who once saw a Jean Renoir film is wont to say everyone has their reasons. not least ofall Ken Ingles. director ofthe GET. and the man who has the final say on what actually plays at Mayfest moviewise. ‘I see the point you‘re trying to make here. and l have to accept some ofit.‘ he reﬂects. ‘but with this year's programme I do think we‘re playing our part underneath the general Mayfest umbrella. Be it the Glasgow Jazz Festival. say. or the New Beginnings season. I've always gone full tilt for GFT‘s involvement as part of a multi-arts festival. In the next few weeks, our Frontline States event (Sat 12 May) connects with the theatre and art components of that whole package. just as Spalding Gray‘s appearance with Swimming to Cambodia (Thurs 24 May) ties in with his visit. As you know, I‘ve always been keen on maintaining our links with Soviet cinema. and this year we‘re lucky enought to have a focus on Georgian theatre that‘s enabled me to slot in a trio of importantGlasnost era films. including Tenghiz Abuladze's Repentance (Sat 19 May).
‘To some extent our hands have been a little bound this year by the fact that the second screen is in development. and because of building work on site we‘ve cancelled all matinee performances from May onwards. In my opinion though. the Mayfest audience is a substantially local one. and with so much going on it can be stretched too thin. I remember in 1987 we put together a strongly repertory- orientated progranmme and it was a financial disaster. It was simply too much to ask of the audience to go and see all the material we had on. This year I’m satisfied that the movies we are playing are getting the kind ofrun that‘ll allow them to gather the audience they deserve. Especially Jane Campion‘s Sweetie. that‘s very much a movie that can be picked up and championed by a festival-type audience.
‘Actually. I think it all comes down to the way that. again in my opinion. Mayfest is still about a working Glasgow audience who are only really free to get to main evening performance. You really have to go cultural all round the clock before you become a holiday attraction for a myriad of tourists in a way that the Edinburgh Festival has obviously done. Until that situation changes. it would be commercial madness to turn the Mayfest film programme into some sort of fully—fledged film festival. The funding bodies would have no truck with the idea ofa Scotland supporting two major international film events. And of course the notion of taking the Edinburgh Film Festival to Glasgow is another political debate entirely. That one is likely to run and run.’ For full details of Mayfest film events see the daily M ayfest listings and the film section.
ist4— 17 May 1990