Given the cur
over our deepening relationship (or lack thereof) with our continental cousins, there could hardly be a more appropriate moment for the European Film Awards to come to Britain. Even better perhaps that the event‘s going ahead in Glasgow, for the concept of diverse national cultural identities commingling within a wider whole, a notion to which the EFA undoubtedly aspires, strikes the strongest of chords here in Scotland’s oft-embattled creative enclave.
That Scottish film might develop its own respected individual voice within the context of the European screen might perhaps smack of some future SNP Minister of Film having a quiet pipe dream, but bearing in mind the restricted economic resources under which would-be Scots auteurs are always likely to suffer, an allegiance to the European ideal ofthe film of texture and ideas is surely going to be more feasible than riskily expensive and doubtless compromised ventures aimed at the tantalising Eldorado of the American box office.
Which I suppose is where our old friend the European Art Movie comes in. Maybe it‘s resistance to subtitles or an unwillingness to rub their braincells together but folks can so often take the easy option so far as the cinema is concerned, choosing American fast food over the kind of acquired-taste gourmet food the Europeans often have to offer. In a way then, though the comparison verges on crassness, Joe Punter and the Scottish film industry are each looking at a similar set ofchoices.
Could be you just have to start young. This viewer’s formative years were largely spent in Belfast’s downhome arthouse the Queen‘s Film Theatre, where names like Tarkovsky, Dreyer and Godard nagged at the adolescent mind and fired the already smouldering emotions. Is it more than coincidence, as Ingmar Bergman prepares to leave his island sanctuary for a Glasgow visit as chairman ofthe European Film Awards jury, that the very same man made the film that probably changed my life more than any other? Well OK probably not, but even ifthe EFA amounts to not much more than a PR job then that‘s enough. The message is clear: European films aren’t completely inacessible, they‘ve got stars and plots and (who knows) you might just be touched or learn something.
All I know is this. The more youthful bottoms on seats at the GFT or Filmhouse, the more positive the outlook for Scottish film in ten, fifteen years time. Trust me, you don’t even notice the subtitles after a while.
And the life-altering Bergman ﬂick, interested factfans?
6 The List 23 November— 6 December 1990