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I In the irantlc lead-up to the Film Festival, several additions have been added to the Film Festival’s already strong programme. Thursday 27 sees the world premiere of the new Roman Polanski movie. Bitter Moon, in Filmhouse 1 at 8.15pm. After the sub-Hitchcock shenanigans of Frantic and the overblown aquatics of Pirates. the controversial director is back on top form with this darkly funny and disturbing tale of twisted romance and sexual obsession. Bitter Moon stars Peter Coyote, Hugh Grant, Kirsten Scott-Thomas and Emmanuelle Seigner, and tickets are being snapped up very quickly. I Also new to the programme is Roberto (Night On Earth, Down By Law) Benigni’s excellent comedy, Johnny Stecchino — a tale of a lovestruck Italian, his mafioso double and a rich, beautiful woman — which has run away with this year‘s Italian box office. Johnny Stecchino links in with a series of screenings and events at the EIFF to examine the future of European cinema. as does Reinhard Schwabenitsky’s hilarious Non-Stop Trouble With My Double, another film about the chaos that ensues when doppelga‘ngers meet. A new British entry to the proceedings is Soft Top, Hard Shoulder. an off-beat road comedy starring Peter Capaldi as a Scot returning home in a clapped-out Triumph Herald who wishes he hadn‘t stopped to pick up any hitchhikers. I Michael Winner has probably made more enemies than friends in the film industry with his violent actioners (including the Death Wish series), mixed bag of comedies and, more to the point, outspoken views on everything from censorship to the state ofthe British film industry. The latter is his chosen subject for this year’s BAFTA Scotland/Scotsman lecture and is sure to raise as many eyebrows and hackles as rounds of applause. I On the celebrity troni it 100ks mac The Commitments actress Bronagh Gallagher is here for You, Me and Marley; Christopher Lambert, star of Highlander, Subway and Greystoke will be around for the 1992 Guardian Talk and a screening ofhis latest thriller, Knight Moves; veteran cinematographers Christopher Challis and Freddie Francis will explain their careers and craft in the masterclass section; and maverick American director Sam Fuller pitches a film idea to an assembled audience at 2.30pm on Saturday 22 at the BBC studios in Queen Street.
Heart of the nation
Val Kilmer talks to Trevor Johnston about Thunderheart and Hollywood’s awakening interest in the plight of the Native American.
‘There‘s certainly been a revival of interest in Native American culture, explains Thunderheart star Val Kilmer with a wry note of pragmatism. ‘The $300 million that Dances With Wolves took at the box office created a real awakening in Hollywood that helped this movie and several others to get made. The Native American has been misrepresented by the movies more than almost any other race, so my hope is that we can help to change people’s awareness. I think the average American is actually quite interested in Indians, they just never think ofdoing anything to help them.’
Produced by Robert De Niro‘s TriBeCa company, British director Michael Apted‘s latest American feature is a thriller suggested by 1975’s events on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. A series ofunexplained ‘accidents’, several deaths and a subsequent FBI investigation led to the controversial conviction of a local American Indian Movement member, Leonard Peltier, on a murder charge. As the young Sioux-born agent drafted in to work with senior federal officer Sam Shephard and tribal cop Graham Greene in clearing up the case, Kilmer reckons his character goes through a certain journey of self-discovery. “He happens to be an Indian, he happens to be an FBI man, but really he has the good fortune to start looking at the life around him and the past he has tried to deny. Raymond’s a patriot who re-identifies his patriotism to include
the Native Americans and their heritage.’
Last seen in The Doors’ playing Jim Morrison as a rock mystic possessed by the spirit of a native shaman, the process of researching, shooting and promoting Thunderheart has left the man who put the Kilmer into Joanne Whalley-Kilmer with few illusions about the US administration‘s ongoing treatment ofthe Indian community. ‘The war,’ he says, ‘has never stopped.’ But with a Cherokee great grandmother in his family background the whole experience seems to have made something of an impression on him and, even though he‘s a highly paid movie star. it’s difficult to dismiss his sincerity when he says the Sioux‘s “humility about just being alive‘ has been ‘an inspiration'.
Making powerful use ofthe Mid-West desert, Apted's ambitious movie may not be entirely successful in blending folklore with police procedural, but it does make for an intriguing comparison with Incident At Oglala, the Robert Reford-produced documentary he made back-to-back on the same subject, which is also showing at EIFF. ‘The two films complement each other.‘ is the Kilmer verdict on the pair. ‘You have to use movie conventions to tell the story in Thunderheart but what you see in Incident At Oglala is just as vivid as the dramatic situation, largely because ofthe insanity ofthe events.‘
It’s hardly the most obvious of cinematic journeys to make but, trom the windswept shores ol the Orkney Islands to the magical cityscape ot the Czech capital, producer Chris Young and writer-director Ian Sellar have lollowed their islands saga, Venus Peter, with a second collaboration entitled Prague. The iilm relates a winsome tale oi a Scot's misadventures in Eastern Europe that is sure to be eagerly anticipated by the Film Festival’s Edinburgh audience. In his tirst maiorlilm role, Alan Cumming is Alexander Novak, travelling to Prague to discover a piece oi World War it newsreel iootage that will unlock the secret at his iamily‘s past, but getting rather more oi an experience than he bargained ior, courtesy oi iilm archivist Bruno Dan: and his beautiful
assistant Sandrlne Bonnaire. Bankrolled in association with
France's Claudie Ossard oi Delicatessen tame, boasting a cast that brings together two major Continental stars, and capturing a tone at wisttul understatement that has more in common with the Czech lllms ot the late 60s than most latter-day British products, Prague shows that all the talk about European co-production can be made reality and as such it’s a littlng locus tor a weekend at activity under the banner Europa Success.
Late additions to the programme are
f [i y .\
Prague: a winsome ale at a Scot's misadventures in
3.: :52,‘ o. ‘ §§ "‘ 41-:
,Q‘M’ “ “ Eastern Europe
German comedy Non-Stop Trouble With My Double and last year's Italian Roberto Benignl chortlerJohnny Stecchlno, both at which proved hugely popular at the home box ottice, while Leos Carax’s spectacular and expensive Les Amants Du Pont Neul shows a moviemaking clan that squares up to Hollywood glamour without losing its own particularly Gallic identity. Debating the issues raised by these various titles will be British Screen's Simon Perry and various representatives from FlPRESCl, the international iilm critics’ association. (Trevor Johnston)
62 The List 21 — 27 August 1992