mt- A sense of place
Alan Morrison reports from Fort William on the 16th Celtic Film and Television Festival.
The West Highland Line isjustly renowned as one of Europe's tttost spectacular train rides. Travelling through wild hills and glens. across Rartnoch Moor into Fort William. it's easy to see why the landscapes around here have been in hot demand by Hollywood for location shooting.
And witlt the Scottish industry itself on a high after the ()scar success of Peter Capaldi's Franz Kafka 's It 's A li’onder/it/ Life. the timing couldn‘t have been better to bring the 16th Celtic Filttt and Television Festival to the heart of the Highlands.
The Festival provided a welcome homecoming for Capaldi. in town to present the First Time Director Award (which he himself won last year in Derry). His presence should increase public awareness of the Festival, which is tttore speciﬁcally an industry delegate event that rotates each year between Scotland. Ireland. Wales. Cornwall and Brittany. Each of this Celtic quintet were well represented in Fort William: daily programmes of screenings revealed a rich range of film and television material produced in these culturally active areas.
A popular misconception of the Festival is that Scotland‘s input is restricted to Gaelic language output. ()n the contrary. a glance through the shortlist uncovered the [)or'tot' Finlay ‘Stolen Lives' episode. Pat Harkins‘s Tartan Short Naranr'e. the BBC Scotland documentary on R.D. Laing Just Another Sinner. and Gallus Besom‘s look at body-building in Coatbridge Hard Men. as well as Gaelic entries like the John McGrath scripted feature Mairi Mhor and current affairs series Iiorpa.
These screenings allow delegates to view. at one go. the diversity of their colleagues' work. whiclt. the organisers hope. will lead to a better understanding of common goals and markets. and increase opportunities for
airi Mhorif'screened at the Celtic Film and television Festival
co-productions. ()ne such new venture. announced this week. was a joinittg of forces between Scottish Television attd 84C in Wales to set up a development fund of £30000 to fund programmes which can be made in Gaelic. Welsh
and English. Two projects are already
in pre-production — 'Iio'as gu .S'asat’nn (Journey 7}) [fire/and). a tongue-in-
check look at the English. pitched as a
reversed Boswell and Johnson with two Gaels going south; and Wild Britain. which draws on the shared
geographical landscapes of North
Wales and the Highlands.
Festival Director Lindsay Pollock is determined that the event should not be insular. ‘What we're trying to do over the week is look at issues that affect us all and therefore affect the Celtic countries.‘ she said. ‘Rather than just considering the past and what‘s gone before. we're looking at the situation as it stands and take from that what is possible for the future.‘
Over the week. a number of issues were raised in lectures. forums attd general discussion, then informally (but passionately) debated in restaurants and bars and. hopefully. drawn together ittto some stronger plan before it was time to head horttc. ()ne of the key themes to emerge. taken up in different ways in speeches by Geraint Stanley Jones (former Managing Director of Regional Broadcasting with the BBC and Chief executive of 84C) and Marcus l’lantin (Network Director of ITV ). concerned the delicate balance between centralisation of public sector broadcasting attd the need for regional (and natiortal) devolution and diversity. In a week when politics attd television catne head to head. these sessions touched topical nerves.
Alistair Moffat (Chief Executive of Scottish Television Enterprises) cut any Celtic sentimentality out of his Sabhal Nor ()staig Lecture by stating that the Gaelic language was ‘at five minutes to midnight on the last day‘ unless a detailed. specific rescue strategy was worked out. With barely 1.000 Gaelic speakers aged between three and live. the language could be wiped out within a generation unless television can target potential learners with strong. attractive programmes. It was a message that surely made sense to the Welsh. Irish. Cornish and Breton delegates present. themselves acutely aware of the dangers that face minority languages. As ever. the Festival was at its best when calling on the combined strengths of like-minded cultures to tackle larger problems.
Over the last few years, Tartan Video (alongside sister company Metro’s theatrical distribution) have been major players in creating and sustaining a UK platform for world cinema. Specialists in Central and South America (they are responsible for the annual Latin American Film Festival), Tartan have also brought to a wider market a range of films from past and present, north, south, east and west.
Until now, in terms of video retail, world cinema has been regarded as something of a specialist market — twofactors being the subtitles stumbling block and the relatively high price of the tapes (usually around the £16 mark). Tartan’s newly launched World Classics collection could open out the appeal of international cinema by bringing quality titles in their original widescreen ratio to the shelves for
under a tenner each.
The first batch draws on Tartan’s already established back catalogue, with reissues of The Hairdresscr’s Husband, Cinema Paradiso, Mon Pere Ce Heros, Elvira Madigan, The Icicle Thief and Les Valseuses. At a glance, it’s an accessible opening bow, relying on popular titles, actors and directors. But, at this price and standard of packaging, that’s a tasty offer for newcomers and collectors alike. (Alan Morrison)
Tartan World Classics are available at
I The Lost Honour 0f Katharina Blum/The Tin Drum (15/18) Both ﬁlms are literary adaptations by German director Volker Schlondorff. Created by Heinrich Boll. Katharina Blum is art enigmatic character. whose life is ruined by a libellous run- in with the gutter press. Schlondorff’s gloomy thriller has Blum embroiled with a suspected terrorist as a comment on Germany's Baader-Meinhof hysteria in 1975. Four years later. the satne director turned G'tinter Grass's The 7in Drum. about a disturbed boy who stops growing during the early days of the Third Reich. into a bizarre and compelling fatnin saga. (Connoisseur £15.99 each) (Eddie Gibb)
I Canto Cregoriano (E) For those who want to know a little more about Gregorian chant and the Benedictine monks of Silos. whose album was a surprise chart hit last year. this video intersperses historical background with specially shot footage to accompany their music. Richly coloured landscapes. sea. snow. sky and space — these images of a modern world unsullied by mankind add a timelessness to the spiritual purity of the chants. Relaxation for the eye and the ear. (l’Ml £9.99)
I Boys (In Film 4 (18) A quartet of British gay shorts appear on this latest instalment. Steve McBride'S Shame concerns a sleazy Newcastle ‘entertaintnent'
hack's attempts to ‘out‘ two American TV stars despite the fact that he‘s something of a bigot and hypocrite himself. In yet clt'is hay. Jeff Cole brings a pop video approach to cruising on the heath.
Mark O’Flaherty's lusth 1 designed Speaking In Riddles celebrates a loose and hedonistic approach to friendship. marriage and parenthood. as two men and two women allow their relationships to ebb and flow. Finally. ' The Last Stop by Mark I Adams and Ross 1 Dinwiddy examines one young man‘s sexual awakening at the hands of a seductive stranger. (Dangerous To Know
I Dark Habits ( 18) When her lover dies front contaminated heroin. nightclub singer Yolanda i takes refuge in a local convent. only to discover that it‘s populated by a small band of nuns who themselves are no strangers to junk. coke or acid. This early Almodovar comedy comes over like downtnarket Bunuel: deliciously bizarre. sacrilegiously parodic. (Tartan £ 15.99)
I Story Of A Cloistered llun (18) More deviants in wimples. although this one claims to be based on ‘authentic 17th century chronicles‘. After choosing a lover her dad dislikes. Carmilla is sent to the local nunnery. where she’s lusted after by half the inmates. Unlike others in this dodgy sub- genre. Domenico Paolella‘s melodrama has a good story structure. atmospheric lighting and superb sets. When the
subject is sex-starved nuns. you cart be sure Redemption Video are on home territory. (Redemption £12.99)
I Not Mozart ( 15) Two prime examples of European art television. first seen in 1991. the bicentenary of lvlozart's death. N Is For Man,
! Music And Mosart finds : Peter Greenaway
combining dance. opera (Louis Andriessen). Computer effects and text for a cerebral. yet strongly visual. examination of evolution. lute/2v, Riddles & Ii’rits is also driven by music. this time by Michael Nytnan attd surtg by Ute Lentper. Director Jeremy Newson bases his work on the letters between the young Mozart attd his father. highlighting plagiarism and occasionally employing surrealist imagery. (Academy £12.99) I Godzilla vs King Chidorah (PG) An interesting thesis could be written on why post- World War 11 Japan chooses to examine the psychological effects of the atomic bomb through tales about a heroic. battling dinosaur. This recent effort boasts better effects and a more protttincnt historical/political plot. in which time-travellers trick today‘s Japanese into going back in tinte to stop Godzilla‘s transfortttation ittto a monster. leaving the country at the mercy of the nasty three-headed dragon Ghidorah. With me so far'.’ If ttot. just enjoy the ﬁghts — sporadic sumo without the silly nappies. (Manga Live £13.99)
26 The List 7-20 Apr 1995