Director of Gallivant
Nice to meet a filmmaker who’s refreshingly frank on the subject of audiences. 'Five minutes in, they’re either going to accept the format and the stylisation, or they‘re just going to walk out of the cinema saying "Fuck me! What was all that about?".'
So far though, the reception for English eccentric Andrew Kotting's debut feature Gallivant has been more than he dared hope for, including a standing ovation at the Berlin Film Festival and the Channel 4 New Director's Award at Edinburgh last year.
'The idea was to get the BFI to pay for our family holiday,’ laughs the Slade Art School boy, and he’s not that far from the truth. The original pitch was to just let him travel around the length of Britain's coastline and see what came of it. However, it was only when he decided to bring along grandma Gladys (then grieving for the loss of her husband, Kotting's grandfather) and his daughter Eden (who suffers from Joubert's Syndrome and can communicate only in her own sign language) that the project really got up and running.
Three months and a hundred hours of footage later, the merry band had made it from Lands End to John O’Groats and back again. The final film is a record of their trip, a catalogue of encounters along the way — Willie Jock, proud supervisor of the Kyle of Lochalsh 'superloo', we salute you — and a collage of Super-8 sights and archive sounds recalling the Britain of
'People get affected by it,’ reflects Kotting. 'It makes them think of their own families, their own mortality, their own journeys. It's not a sentimental film and I was trying hard throughout not to overdo that. Eden's plight is hard enough on its own. You could throw in a bucketful of tears if you wanted to, but I just didn't want to make some toshy, slushy piece of celluloid.’
Fishheads and tales: director Andrew Kotting
Not that Eden is on screen all the time though, since she and granny weren't able to follow daddy on the Scottish leg of the trip, leaving Kotting to breathe in the autumn landscape and send 'video postcards' home while dangling precariously off the side of the tour bus. Honesty personified, he's even willing to acknowledge that not everyone will warm to his mad-
hatter screen [326003.
'It was great at the time,‘ he enthuses, ’but when I looked at it afterwards, I did think “Who the fuck's this ego?". It's a real anxiety seeing yourself up there, so you just hope for acceptance.’
(Trevor Johnston) l Gallivant plays the Edinburgh Fi/mhouse, Mon l7—Thu 20 Nov.
Kickboxer and filmmaker
Bill Little: not just playing for kicks
Glaswegian Bill Little’s life is the stuff of a copywriter's dreams. Conjuring up the image of a great, big, hairy Jackie Chan from The Gorbals, Little is a
three-time world champion kickboxer turned budding 'Jocksploitation' movie mogul.
Retiring from kickboxing with an injury, Little went on to a three-year apprenticeship in film stunt techniques before working on Braveheart and Trainspotting. Last year he moved into low budget film and Video production, writing, directing, producing and starring in his first feature-length video The Fighter. Using friends in the business, he turned the piece around against the odds for £10,000.
’That's how we managed to keep the budget down,’ he explains. ’I applied to the Glasgow Film Fund and the Scottish Film Production Fund for a £20,000 grant, and they told me it would be ImpOSSIble to make a film for that amount of money. So what I did was prove them wrong: I went out and did it for half that money.’
The Fighter is a martial arts yarn set on Glasgow's mean streets and has been sold straight to video where it should be available next year. Little, meanwhile, has transferred his expertise to a similiarly themed second production named Revenge, which he plans to begin shooting later this
month. He believes this outing enjoys a superior script and a greater pool of resources, although he is still looking for two male actors aged 35 to 45, not too hung up on equity rates (and presumably their good looks). And also out there somewhere is his elusive leading lady.
’She’s got to be between nineteen and twenty three,’ Little explains. ’lt’s quite a big part. Preferably it's somebody who has done a bit of martial arts but, if not, she’s going to have to look the part, because she does quite a lot of fighting in the film.’
And fighting is something that Bill Little knows a thing or two about. In a compelling footnote to his life, he roundly thrashed an unknown Belgian amateur in 1988 who was later to adopt the name of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
'l'll give him his due,’ he says of the famed 'Muscles from Brussels’. 'Without being big-headed, nobody had ever taken me ten rounds before. I put him down about five times and he just kept getting up.’ (John McNally)
I Any financial backers interested in Revenge should contact Bill Little on 0741 778 8229.
FILM BOOK Notorious: The Life Of Ingrid Bergman
Donald Spoto (HarperCollins, £16.99) ****
Fame is a mask which eats into the face: Sartre’s saying could have been written with Ingrid Bergman in mind. Donald Spoto’s biography comprehen- sively reviews her career and expertly charts the way the actress's screen image influenced public attitudes toward her.
In 1945, the Swedish sex symbol was the biggest movie star in the world. Her three pictures released since November — Spellbound, Saratoga Trunk and The Bells Of St Mary’s — grossed $21 million by the year's end, making her the most profitable actor in Hollywood. She was receiving 25,000 fan letters a week from a US public who worshipped her virtuous screen image, but confused it with reality, thus idolising Bergman as the epitome of American family values.
Four years later, having fallen for Italian director Roberto Rossellini and left her husband Petter Lindstrom and eleven-year—old daughter Pia, Bergman was condemned by American society, who felt betrayed that their favourite wholesome screen goddess seemed to know what sex was. From autumn 1949 to the end of 1950, she was vilified in more than 38,000 magazine articles, gossip columns and news- paper editorials. Questions were even asked on Capitol Hill.
To a certain extent, the public scandals have overshadowed the incredible achievements of a career which boasts 46 mowes in five languages, three Oscars (for Gaslight, Anastasia and Murder On The Orient Express) and an Emmy, which she earned in A Woman Called Golda while dying of cancer in 1982.
Spoto’s biography — written from years of personal interviews with leading Hollywood players, Bergman and her family — sets the record straight. Every film, television and stage role is atmospherically described, while relationships with such figures as Rossellini, Cary Grant, Ernest Hemingway and, especially, Alfred Hitchcock, with whom she enjoyed a deep and lifelong friendship. are related touchingly and warmly. Above all, they have the ring of truth.
Spoto brings an affectionate verve to his subject, making for emotional reading. He may occasionally act the apologist for Bergman’s self- indulgences, but when a star shines as brightly as she did, then it is hardly surprising that the shadows quickly fade. (Peter Ross)
Here's looking at you, kid:
7—20 Nov 1997 TIIE ust 25 Q