Robert Redford backs agency to boost Scottish filmmakin

SCOTTISH FILMMAKERS are to benefit from a new training company based in Edinburgh and Dublin, which aims to bring the success of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute to the UK. Moonstone International will use techniques pioneered by Sundance, allowing would-be writers and directors to hone their skills with the support and advice of leading professionals from Hollywood and Europe. Hollywood actor-director Robert Redford-approached John McGrath, director and founder of Scottish independent company Freeway Films, to become Moonstone's chair. ’He could see filmmaking was taking off in Scotland and Ireland, and needed support,’ McGrath explained, before launching the new agency at the

Cannes Film Festival.

McGrath said Moonstone would help Scottish filmmakers with limited experience make the leap to the major league, with the support of some of Hollywood’s experts. ’We will run workshops aimed at creative writer- directors, and screen-writers who do all the work that the directors get the credit for,’ he added.

’Sundance and the US independents have found out how to make popular movies without succumbing to the grotesque ethos of the major studios,’ he said. ’We've got some top class people lined up. If we in Europe can learn how to make our own distinctive voices heard and still make successful films, let's go for it.’

Support from bodies including the

Scottish Office and Scottish Screen has helped launch Moonstone with a budget of £400,000, and the first three-week c0urse for filmmakers will be held in late 1997.

While courses will be open to citizens of all EU member states, applicants from Ireland and Scotland will be able to attend free of charge in recognition of the two countries' Contribution to the core funding.

Redford, founder and president of the Sundance institute, said ’We are excited about the new filmmakers emerging in Scotland and Ireland. Sundance welcomes Moonstone as a new colleague in the struggle to provide support for independent thinkers and artists.’

(Stephen Naysmith)

Robert Redford: excited

Council backs gay couples

A SCOTTISH COUNCIL has broken new ground by formally recognising gay couples when one partner has to go into long-term care.

In a bold move, believed to be a first in the UK, Dumfries and Galloway’s social services department is to treat a gay couple as if they were married. The council told the pair that when one of them moves into a residential home, the other will be able to remain in their house.

When illness or old age forces someone into long term care, the cost - usually about £200 a week can lead to their home being sold to contribute towards the cost of their keep. Married couples are exempt from this rule and now Dumfries and Galloway Council has told the couple that they will be too.

Keith Makin, the Council’s director of social services, confirmed: 'We Will treat them as if they were a married couple.’ The decision will now apply to all gay couples in the area in a permanent relationship.

Spokeswoman for gay rights organisation Stonewall, Anya Palmer said she was delighted. (Philip Cowan)

Water claims won’t wash, say surfers

THE SEA OFF some of Scotland’s shores is dangerously polluted, according to the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), who blame the problem on spendthrift water companies.

An SAS event on 24 May aims to highlight Portobello beach, with members pressuring East of Scotland Water to consider upgrading sewage treatment.

’Present European standards are a joke,’ said SAS spokesman Alasdair Steele. ’If you sit in a bath and pour in a cup of raw sewage, the bath W0uld pass the standards for bathing water.’

He says water users are sick of half- processed sewage and sanitary items coming back into shore from 'Iong sea outflow’ pipes like those used at Portobello. ’The idea is that all the potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses have broken down by the time they come back in to shore,’ he said. ’However water companies should consider the needs of recreational water users as well.‘

SAS, which claims its membership includes concerned parents, sWimmers and fishermen as well as surfers, is urging East of Scotland water to consider ultra-violet treatment of waste before it is disposed of at sea,

’The advantage is you don’t need such

Pig drug sold as ecstasy

DRUG AGENCIES ARE warning that a powerful veterinary anaesthetic is in some pills being sold as ecstasy in clubs across Scotland.

Following reports that clubbers were having abnormal side-effects from pills known as 'flat dollars’, the Edinburgh- based drugs agency Crew 2000 had one analysed and found it to contain ketamine and a stimulant, ephedrine.

Ketamine, known by users as ’Special K’, is an anaesthetic best known for its use as a pig tranquilliser, although it is sometimes used on humans. Its effects include dissociation, out-of—body experiences and ego-loss.

In the past, any recreational use of

4 I’I'IEUST 16—29 May 1997

the drug has largely been home-based. ’When people take ketamine in a club setting, thinking it is ecstasy, it is not conducive at all to that environment and they end up haVing a bad time,’ says Liz Skelton of Crew 2000 who are distributing leaflets to warn clubbers about the pills.

One problem is that the pills have little immediate effect, so there is a risk clubbers will take further pills or mix them with speed or alcohol.

Besides the psychological effects, users have reported memory loss, passing out and a ’come-down’ which can last all the next week.

The pills containing ketamine are

a long pipe then, as the harmful bacteria are killed off,’ Steele explained. 'Unfortunately this is not even under consideration because of the cost.’

SAS argues that Scots water companies are taking a short term View, ignoring Wider costs such as loss of tourism earnings and the cost to the health service of treating infections and water-borne diseases. ’Scottish water companies are way behind their counterparts in England on this,' Steele maintained, round, ab0u1 7mm in diameter, flat, a speckled or dirty white colour and have a dollar sign stamped on one side, They have been reported in the west coast, Fife, central Scotland and Edinburgh,

’The disturbing part is that they are being sold as ecstasy,’ says Skelton. 'That is when people are gomg to get into problems, and when they have got into problems.’ (Thom Dibdin)

I The Scottish youth and drugs working group is organising a conference entitled The Bitter Pill Youth Culture And Drugs In Scotland at The Arches in Glasgow on Friday 6 June. A limited number of free places are available to young people -— Contact Crew 2000 on 0131 220 3404 for details.

Surfers: wave of protest

However East of Scotland Water insists the standard of coastal waters is adequate. ’There is an existing sewage outfall at Portobello, which is within concern levels set by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency,’ a spokesman said.

’We are currently considering options in order to comply with the new urban waste water directive. We have to

assess which is the most cost-effective

solution,’ he added. (Stephen Naysmith)

List writer up for top award

THE L/ST’S DEPUTY editor Alan Moriison has been shortlisted for one of Scotland's premier Journalism awards.

In the Bank of Scotland Press Awards, Morrison emerged among the three best in the categow arts and entertainment writer of the year. The overall Winner Will be announced on 16 May.

Morrison’s entry included interViews With Trainspotting and Shal/ow Grave star Ewan McGregor and James MacMiIlan, composer of the opera Ines de Castro. (Stephen Naysmith)