mam— Auntie’s in force

Trevor Johnston reports on the record Festival presence from BBC Films.

If you've picked up the Drambuie Edinburgh Film Festival free preview. you'll doubtless have noticed the page advert from the BBC trumpeting an unprecedented number of films at this year's event. Indeed. in Ken Loach's triumphant opener Land And Freedom and Gillies Mackinnon 's 60s Glaswegian saga Small Faces. the BBC can claim credit for having a hand in two of the most excitedly anticipated entries in the whole programme. Given the reputation that Film Four lntemational have built up over the past decade or so for being at the forefront of British screen culture. it‘s been easy for celluloid fixated critics to overlook the strong contribution made by the Beeb in developing new talent. but the Edinburgh Film Festival has certainly played its part in turning the tide. this particular year proving no exception. For one thing. the BBC's record in winning the Michael Powell Award for the best new British film on three recent occasions certainly speaks for itself. Gillies Mackinnon’s The Grass

Ian Hart and lena IIeadey In loved lip

Arena. Richard Spence‘s You. Me And

Marley and Antonia Bird's Priest (as well as the same director‘s special jury

. commendation for Safe) would stand up for themselves in any company. but

just happen to have been made for television. Having created an initial buzz as a ‘work-in-progress' at Edinburgh. for instance. Priest attracted a feeding frenzy ofdistributors at its ‘official‘ launch at the big money

i Toronto Film Festival. and it’s this

cross-over between big and small

5 screen that's likely to become more 1 prevalent as the BBC seeks to develop a

theatrical profile for its output.

While BBC Films. set up under the aegis of producer Mark Shivas. is dedicated to developing projects like Land And Freedom and Small Faces specifically as feature films for the cinema. BBC television's Head of Single Drama. George Faber. is also keen. he says. ‘to increase the

: opportunity for all our films to go

theatrical. even though we‘re not the

potential distributors interested in

aren’t enough BBC films’). the new

tensions between building public

v of the licence payers that seem to have

2 them for an hour and a half. We‘re ; looking for stories that compel l

ultimate arbiters of whether they do or not‘. To that end. his aim is to give enough leeway with transmission dates and provide straightforward deals for

picking up on his product. either in the : UK or abroad. ‘In the case of Michael Winterbottom's new film with Jimmy I McGovern. Go Now. and Karl Francis's Streetlife.‘ he adds. ‘those are both | bound for television in Britain. but we have very high hopes that they'll be

bought up by a lot of foreign territories as features.’ 9

Although the BBC have no plans to

follow Channel 4 into forming their

own UK distribution outfit (‘there just

emphasis on the desirability of a theatrical window for their productions does seem to show some easing of the

awareness and satisfying the demands

existed in the past. Ultimately. though.

it probably won't have that much effect .: . on the decisions made by programme

commissioners like Faber. who‘s determined to get as many new writers _ and directors (he particularly rates i Peter Cattaneo‘s club-scene drama Lot-ed Up) on screen: ‘The quality ofa one-off film for the cinema is not a million miles from the quality ofa one- .

- off film for television. They both have

. i to have a sense of uniqueness that { makes you want to sit down and watch I

attention. surprise and excite. Stories that you want to see as soon as you‘ve heard about them.‘

manni- Dity in Shadow

Following the huge success of Shallow Grave, Scottish filmmaking really seems to be coming into its own. This year’s DEFF is showing a number of local films of an exceptionally high standard, including The Near Room. iiobert Murphy, who celebrates his screenwriting debut with the fllnr, believes this signifies the birth oi a new and important Scottish cinema.

The Near Room tells the story of hard-bitten hack Dharlie Dolquhoun, who finds himself on the trail of Tommy Sterling - the daughter he’s not seen since birth. ills Ioumey takes us through the seedier side of Diesgwegian life to a dark underworld

G. The List 18-24 Aug 1995



Adrian Dunbar trawls Iasgow In The iiear Boom most people don’t realise exists. Murphy says he was inspired as a child by classic American films noirs and always wanted to make a thriller. The Ilear Room Is a Chinatown for 90s



l Glasgow, with Its brilliantly depicted ' central character (played by Adrian Dunbar), ever twisting plot, Increasing i levels of corruption among officials

remember. I

The film took nine drafts and three i years to complete, largely because of l funding problems. Murphy was delighted to be Involved throughout the shooting and editing, praising director David Ilayman for being ‘very democratic’ In always allowing him his say. While he Is already concentrating on two more projects, one another thriller, the other a futuristic adventure, Murphy isn’t ready to sell out to Ilollywood. ‘It depends on the sort of story, where it should be made,’ he reckons. But with talents like this prepared to stay in Scotland, this is surely a great omen for our film Industry. (Dill Harris) The Near Room, 18 Aug, EFT, 8pm; 20 Aug, Danae 1, 9.30pm; 25 Aug, Fllmhouse 1, 10. 15pm. £6 (£4).

Popcorn at the ready, Alan Morrison ; picks out the best of the big screen f treats.

I Desperado Robert Rodriguez's [fl Mariachi sequel stars Antonio

; Banderas and uses its bigger budget to l pour upon us a torrent of action effects

and shoot-out acrobatics. Desperado. 18 Aug. Cameo I . 9.30pm;

. 25 Aug. Cameo I. [1.30pm. £6 (£4). : l Cinema Df Unease Sam Neill's I exploration ofthe New Zealand film

industry (part ofthe BFI/Channel 4 Centenary of Cinema series) is

perceptive and often hilarious. : Cinema 0f Unease. 23 Aug. Film/louse

I. [0.15pm. £6 (£4). I Dial M For Murder An extremely rare

chance to see Hitchcock‘s classic

suspenser in its 3-D format. Special glasses provided. Dial M For Murder. 22 Aug. Film/rouse l. 8. [5pm and [0.15pm. £6 (£4).

I I'll Be Your Mirror Photographer Nan Goldin is the subject (and co-director) of this emotionally charged odyssey through Boston's drag scene. to New York's gay community. and on to the AIDS era.

I'll Be Your Mirror. [9 Aug. Film/louse 2. 8.45pm; 20 Aug. Film/rouse 2. 4pm. £6 (£4).

I Peter Mullan Shorts A trio of rough- tongued. darkly expressive shorts - Close. Good Day For The Bad Guys. Fridge from one of Scotland's emerging talents.

Peter Mullan Shorts. 19 Aug. Filmhouse 2. 6.30pm. £6 (£4).

I Streetlife A meticulously paced slide from comedy to tragedy as Welsh single mum Jo is abandoned by her married lover when she falls pregnant. Helen McCrory‘s performance is one of the best of the year.

Streetlife. 2! Aug. Filmhouse 1. 1pm; 24 Aug. Filmhouse 1. 8.15pm. £6 (£4).