FILM preview I
: ' Director of Ma Vie En Rose
'When you're a child, you don't know you can't dress up in women’s clothes. Your parents don't teach you that, society does.’ So says Belgian director Alain Berliner, getting straight to the heart of his debut feature, Ma Vie En Rose, the film that opened this year's Edinburgh Film Festival.
'At the beginning of your life, everything is possible, so it's full of colours,’ Berliner continues. 'But little by little, the real world loses its colours when you keep being told “you can't". And for most people who believe that they are different, but are not accepted by others or by society, the only solution is to escape into a dream world.‘
This sense of alienation leading to fantasy is clearly at the heart of most artists' creative drives, but in Ma Vie En Rose it takes a different form. Seven-year-old Ludovic (played with calm assurance by Georges Du Fresne) loves dressing up in women's clothes and is certain that one day he will become a girl. His parents indulge him at first, hoping it's just a passing phase, but when their neighbours start to show distaste at his behaviour and Ludovic's father loses his job, the
emotional strain on the family begins to show.
Berliner expresses Ludovic's positive vision of his world in brilliantly coloured sequences, a toy-inspired wonderland that contrasts strongly with the steely blues and dull greys of the adult world. Ma Vie En Rose isn’t all about visual style, however; it carries a strong message about winning the freedom to express oneself and also allowing others the space to do so.
'When we are confronted with a difference, it's human to be afraid first of all,‘ argues Berliner. 'But God gave us a brain and some intelligence, so we can act differently and say “Well, this could be interesting”. In the movie, Ludovic is confronted with people who don't
Alain Berliner directs Georges Du Fresne in Ma Vie En Rose
want to be different. It’s the kind of neighbourhood that cannot live without being reassured by the image of itself. That’s very human, but it's what causes racism and lots of political problems because we don't accept
’Each house is a mirror and they can see themselves in the reflection. "He buys a new car, I'll buy one. Maybe I can choose the colour, but his is a good model." It works like that. I'm not making criticisms about it, I just think it’s human. And sometimes human means stupid.’
I Ma Vie En Rose opens at the Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse on Fri 24 Oct. See review, page 26.
Water music: Steven Mackintosh and Lisa Palfrey in House Of America
Marc Evans Director of House Of America
Should I stay or should I go? It's the perennial question for small-town dreamers and it’s at the heart of Marc Evans's first full-length film, House Of America. While Cardiff, Evans’s own home town doesn't quite qualify as anyone’s idea of small, the 38-year-old director is all too familiar with the dilemma facing the characters in the movie.
Having grown up lost in music and wanting to travel, Evans was struck by how familiar Edward Thomas’s original
22 TIIE LIST 23 Oct—6 Nov 1997
stage play seemed when he first discovered it five years ago: ’I saw House Of America when it was a play in Cardiff and thought, "God, this guy's been reading my mind. This is the language, the landscape and the things I really think." '
Like his award-winning film debut, the Welsh language short Johnny B. Goode, House Of America worries away at the the tensions between where you're from and where you’d like to be, and the choice between leaving and longing. The end result has a flinty realism, but never loses sight of the glamour of the dream.
’We didn't want to make one of those films saying "Isn't it terrible living in Wales — look at the incest, look at the drug abuse”,' Evans explains. 'Tragic, as opposed to miserable, is what we were aiming at, and romantic, as opposed to complaining.’
The film is at its best when it conjures up American iconography — US artists Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth were visual influences — while grounding it in a very Welsh sense of place. The ranch house of the title is the most obvious example.
'lt’s an American house bUilt With corrugated iron, which is a Welsh material,‘ explains Evans. 'I really like the romance of living the American hobo dream, but it’s pissing on your head all the time and you can't get away.’
Evans's next film IS a screen version of Eoin MacNamee’s frightening Northern Irish thriller, Resurrection Men, but for now he's happy to have made his home country, in screen terms, a little less invisible. (Teddy Jamieson)
I House Of America opens at the Glasgow Grosvenor on Fri 24 Oct and Edinburgh Filmhouse on Fri 21 Nov. See review.
SHORT FILM Magic Moments
Glas ow: GFTIEdinburgh: Film ouse, from Fri 24 Oct.
Short films rarely travel beyond the confines of student showreels, film festivals or the graveyard slot on television, and so pitifully few people get to see the earliest work by future filmmakers and actors. Yet the inclusion of a good short after the adverts is a great way to get ready for the main event of your evening's big screen entertainment.
The problem is purely financial: an extra ten minutes on the running time of a programme, especially if the main feature stretches to more than 100 minutes, means that the cinemas have to reduce the daily number of screenings. With consequent loss of revenue.
This is where the Levi/Firesign Short Film Initiative and a smart wee Glasgow-made short called Magic Moments come in. The Initiative guarantees commercial distribution for two short films a year; while the film, a bitter-sweet comedy about a girl working in a photo shop, well that speaks for itself.
'I believe in the short film as a format in its own right, as well as being a calling card for directors and producers,’ says Magic Moments producer Jill Robertson, who has just formed her own production company after spending three years working as head of production opposite Andrew Macdonald on Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary.
Together with Magic Moments writer, John Wrathall, Robertson decided to make a short which was as attractive as the long adverts and promos which have usurped the role of the short in the cinema. With an excellent script in the bag, she gained the support of Levi/Firesign and the Scottish Arts Council before mining her contacts made with Macdonald.
Most notable of these is Glasgow- born director Saul Metzstein, whom Robertson met while working on Trainspotting. The result is a magic moment in its own right — of the type which tickles the funny bone for long after it has sunk into your subconsoous. And a calling card which bodes well for the production/writing team's forthcoming feature project, Out To Lunch. (Thom Dibdin)
I Screening with Ma Vie En Rose. See Listings for details.
Short and bitter-sweet: Arlene Cockbum in Magic Moments