Glasgow, the 705, strikes and rats in the rubbish bins.
Not the typical topics for a debut feature film, but with a trio of brilliant short films in the bag, LYNNE RAMSAY is ready for the big time.
Words: Alan Morrison Photograph: Alex Riley
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Lynne Ramsay: ‘It's good to look at a bigger horizon'
lF THli FlRliS of the Auld Alliance are still burning. young ﬁlmmaker Lynne Ramsay is fanning the ﬂames. Glasgow-born Ramsay has twice won top prizes at France's major ﬁlm festivals.
First came (‘annes in 1996. when her debut as director. Small Dear/ts. was named Best Short Film. Then. only two weeks ago. Ramsay‘s Kill The Day — a fictionalised account of her brother’s experiences as a heroin addict — took the (irand Prix at the Brest Film Festival. winning
her £30,000 towards her ﬁrst ‘ ‘ ' ' '~: '1.
‘I feel more liuropean.‘ says 28-year-old Ramsay. - who has lived in London for z r ﬁve years. 'lt‘s good to look A at a bigger horizon. whether you‘re based in Scotland or London. I don‘t want to be in a small industry where everybody knows everybody else and is fighting for the same things. although everyone in the Scottish industry has been very supportive of me.‘
This support extended to her third ﬁlm. (iasman. made as part of 1997's Tartan Shorts scheme and now up for Best Short Film at the forthcoming BAFTA Scotland Awards.
1. 30’ Tilly"
Gasman — the story of a young girl who slowly realises the stranger in her father‘s company is the sister she never knew existed — is a masterpiece of short filmmaking: narratively slight. bttt with an emotionally evocative atmosphere and characters whose lives linger on long after they cease to appear on screen.
‘I hate ﬁlms that give you everything on a plate.‘ Ramsay explains. ‘Short ﬁlms cart be as powerful as a feature. You can get something so concise that means something bigger than this tiny wee slice of ten minutes on screen. I‘m very interested in . . . real life. I suppose. and being honest about it in some respect.‘
Ramsay is now completing the third draft of a feature script set during the strikes by Glasgost bin men during the 1970s. Like her shorts. it draws from the past and. speciﬁcally. from the viewpoint of a child.
‘When I was ﬁve. we lived in Maryhill.‘ she remembers. ‘l)uring the bin strike. people would throw bottles of water onto the street. so that when it smashed. the rats would scarper and you could walk somewhere. The ﬁlm I‘m making is the portrait of a boy who doesn‘t really ﬁt into that environment which is quite macho. Celtic/Rangers. things like that. He‘s deteriorating mentally as the landscapes deteriorating physically.‘
After leaving Maryhill. the Ramsay family moved to a Summerston housing estate. Lynne avoided pressure to take a job as a secretary with British (ias. preferring to stay on at school. before discovering photography at Glasgow‘s Visual Arts Centre and (‘ollege of Building and Printing. After her degree course at lidinburgh‘s Napier University. she sent her portfolio to the National Film and Television School. where she was accepted as a cinenuttographer. (‘onstant hassling finally paid off. and she was allowed to write and direct Small Deal/Is.
‘As a photographer. you‘ve got to look at everything with fresh eyes. so I try to retain that in my filmmaking.~ she says. ‘I see
(ilasgow in a completely dilferent way now. When I go back up. I don‘t feel working-class or middle-class or nothing. I feel I‘m in no man‘s land. It's funny. if you do self— confessional work and that gets noticed. in a way you‘re erasing your own memories.’
The BAFTA Scotland Awards are broadcast on Scottish Television on Sun 30 Nov at 9pm. A '