I Fringe Film and Video Festival: Chris Byrne. FFVF (‘o-ordinator for the last two years. has been successfully head-hunted by London Video Access for the post of distribution manager. L'nder liyrne's guiding hand. the Festival has grown in size and stature to become one of Britain’s most important events for screening bold. innovative film and video work from across the world. as well as a vital showcase for new Scottish work. which itself is fast gaining a strong international reputation in this field.
Tire appointment of a new co- ordinator will be one of the subjects discussed at an open meeting for enthusiasts and those seeking further information (about the post or the FFVF in general) which will be held on Wed l June at 7.30pm in the main hall of The Stepping Stones in Edinburgh. Before then. details are available from lil-‘Vli. 2‘) Albany Street. Edinburgh Elll 3QN (031 557 3852).
I EFT Course: The origins of the European Art Movie is the subject of a live-week course held on Thursday evenings at the Glasgow Film Theatre. beginning 2 June. Aimed at film enthusiasts who have no background in lilm studies. the course will consist of a seminar. taken by l’aola Visocchi. which follows on from the early evening screening. The films under discussion range from Beitolucci's The Spider 's Sirulugt'ni to Bergman's (’ries .‘lllt/ ll’lu's/u’rs to Kieslowski's The Double Life Of Veronique. Fees cost £15 (£10). and information is available from Gl’l‘. l2 Rose Street. Glasgow G3 (()4l 322 8l28).
:— Out of the red
While much of the Europe once hidden behind the Iron Curtain is now becoming familiar to us, Bulgaria remains an unknown quantity. The odd bottle of red wine, Black Sea package holiday resorts, maybe a bizarre assassination with a poison-tipped umbrella — tiny fragments that have little, if any, relevance to the current state of the country.
‘I recently saw an article from The Observer which was reviewing the situation in the Balkans,’ says final- year Napier University student lligel Smith. ‘Romania bordered Turkey and Greece, and Bulgaria had been completely taken out of the map.’ Even before witnessing this rather severe example of British revisionist geography, Smith had decided to produce and direct a documentary that would break down the ‘pre- conceived and also basic lack of ideas’ that people in this country had about Bulgaria. Since his first visit there in 1991, he has returned every year, and last month brought together a crew of three other Scots and four Bulgarians to shoot the raw footage for what he hopes will be a 52-minute documentary — working title At The Umbrella’s End.
‘It looks at the last five years in Bulgaria,’ Smith explains. ‘llow people’s expectations of the arrival of democracy and capitalism have lived up to the actualities; how their opinions have changed as a result of it, and what they hope and fear for their future.’ In the course of filming, he has discovered a country very much at the crossroads: a President actively courting America and Western
Europe, the youth vote that brought about change stepping back from politics, the former Communists fooling no one - internally at least — under their new banner of the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
Smith hopes to have a completed film in early August. A glance through the raw footage indicates that it will indeed open Western eyes to a country veering between extremes. On one tape is a record of their visit — the first by any film crew - to the gallery of the Bulgarian Parliament fora speech by the new Macedonian president; on another, a political scientist puts his country’s struggles into perspective and, most distressingly, another captures a rambling interview with a group of gypsy children living rough near Sofia’s main railway station, each managing only a few sentences before thrusting their noses back into a glue-
‘Most people think there’s no going back to Communism,’ Smith concludes. ‘We got a lot of them saying life was simpler then, but if we asked, “Would you go back to the way things were?”, the answer was uniformly, “llo, never”.’ (Alan Morrison)
MADE IN HONG KONG
Hong Kong action movies, without equal in style, have been threatening to blast their way out of the cult corner ever since John Woo splashed blood Jackson Pollock-like across UK screens with The Killer. flow the appetite of a wider British audience will be sated as video label Made In llong Kong’s first quartet of titles hits the shelves in original widescreen
Fittingly, The Killer (18) heads the pack. An assassin takes on one last job to pay for an operation that will restore the eyesight of a singer be injured during a hit. An anti-hero out of time, he encapsulates many of the notions of guilt and honour that run through Woo’s work. Star Chow Yun- Fat tries out a more comic turn in God Of Gamblers (15) as a cocky card sharp with almost superhuman abilities, who regresses to childish amnesiac after a knock on the head. Two films in one, really: tense poker plot with an ace up its sleeve and an odd middle section in which the laughs don’t travel too well.
Johnny To’s The Barefoot Kid (15) was one of Hong Kong’s biggest box office successes last year. Playing a period coming-of-age moral fable against the sharp contemporary editing of its martial arts scenes, it is stratospheres above the usual kung fu dross in your local store. Saviour Of The Soul (15), on the other hand, is a futuristic action romance, where there’s more unrequited love flying around than bullets. Its stylised design, electric colours and heightened fight sequences show cinema at its boldest and best. (Alan
The Made In Hong Kong titles go on sale on 1 June, priced £12.99, and £18.99 for the box set of The Killer.
I Kaked ( 18) A trawl through the despair of contemporary Britain. Mike Leigh's latest work follows a young drifter as he spews forth cynicism and inner pain on a visit to London. The structure has Johnny (David Thewlis) meeting various people as he wanders. like a disillusioned downbeat Ulysses. in search of peace — physical. moral.
I Elli Briest (U) Fassbinder‘s treatment of Theodor Fontane‘s novel is rtot your typical ‘young wife in passionless marriage' story. although that is certainly part of it. He is more interested in setting up intricate levels of contradiction — lifli's rejection of social convention and her desire to be part of it. her spirited personality and the stifling compliance she must undergo. the director‘s own straightforwardly spoken narration and the sumptuous black-and- white vignettes. The bright flame who flickers in this cold world is actress Hanna Schygulla. who also stars in The Marriage 0f Maria Braun. Married for only a day before post-World War II traumas separate her from her husband. Maria’s life becomes a question of survival: financial. social. moral. personal integrity.
psychological. Some episodes work well. others less so. but Thewlis's award-winning performance draws it all together and is never less than astounding. tl-‘irst Independent)
I Julian Sands takes to the air again. unfortunately without Richard ii. Grant. in the engaging supernatural nonsense of Warlock 2: The Armageddon ( ls. Reflective); Sylvester
This is a coitiplex portrait of a complex woman. independently minded. but ultimately a victim of her own loyalty. Schygulla is magnificent. and Fassbinder a master at
endowing his women with
true strength. (Connoisseur both £15.99)
I Bad Behaviour ( 15) Les Blair's comedy drama certainly has touches of the Mike Leigh style. but hits the mark more consistently. This is the chaos of real life. with Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack starring as an Irish
couple in London.
struggling with growing-
tip kids. jobs. builders.
and all the problems that
are thrown in their face day in. day out.
Refreshing and relaxed. (Channel 4 Films)
, I Mutuals (U) Charlie Chaplin’s Mutual liilms
period of 1916 is gathered here on two video
volumes. Volume 1
,' contains The l-‘lrmrwu/kt'i:
The Vagabond, 'I'lu' Fireman and ()m' AM: Volume 2 contains The Count. lie/rind The Screen. The Prllt'll.\'/l()p
and. a hilarious early
: masterpiece. l/ic Rink.
Stallone wakes up froin an icy bed and sets about ripping the hell out of a futuristic PC world in search of arch baddie Wesley Snipes in Demolition Man (15. Warner); and indestructable super- warriors brought back from the dead give WWF wrestling star Roddy Piper a hard time in the jungle in Resort To Kill (18. Medusa)
Great stuff. which indicates the genius that was to emerge later. (l’olyGram) I U2: Live In Sydney Never has a rock concert been geared more towards video than Zum‘upu — and if this isn‘t quite better than the real thing. it's still a reasonable substitute fora front-row seat. Sydney was the final stopping-place of the constantly mutating tour and thus there‘s some material from the Zoom/m album that Scottish fans never saw performed live. Plus a tearful farewell from Mr Macbisto. his usefulness thoroughly outlived. (Polygram £l2.9‘)) I M. Harvey: Reeling (‘omprising largely backstage footage. this is as downbeat as you'd expect from the otherwise excellent Ms l-larvey. The live songs - including the only onstage appearance ever of the Man Size String Quartet — are worth it. but after a couple of viewings. you'll be fast- forwarding through the highly unrevealing ‘candid' moments to get 9 to them. (Polygram/Guild Home Video £10.99)
The List 2() May—2 June 1994 23