Filming in Scotland, 27 Apr-24 May.
There are many reasons that encourage directors to make films in Scotland but, until now, the phonetic sound of a city's name hasn’t been one of them. However, for Norway's Hans Petter Moland, it was the way that ’Aberdeen' tripped off his tongue that convinced him to set much of his new road movie on this side of the North Sea.
Currently shooting in and around Glasgow, the film describes how Kaisa (Lena Headey) tries to bring her estranged alcoholic father, Tomas (Stellan Skarsgérd), to the sickbed of her mother, Helen (Charlotte Rampling). Ironically, the production unit won’t touch down in Aberdeen at all: locations in Glasgow - including James Watt Street and Canniesburn Hospital - have been standing in for various points between from London to the Granite City.
Bank Holiday Monday was spent filming on the beach at Saltcoats but, when The List visits the set, the mainly Norwegian crew have shifted to a dual carriageway near Cumbernauld. In fact, across the road from where the camera is set up stands a signpost marking one mile to Abronhill, where Gregory’s Girl was shot all of twenty years ago. The (fictional) mood is much more tense than in Bill Forsyth’s movie, however: Kaisa's car has had a puncture and there's no spare tyre because the boot is full of beer for Tomas. Father and daughter bicker until Clive (Ian Hart) drives up like a knight of the road, albeit in a Scania truck rather than a white horse.
’It's a rough, abrasive, but very 905 script,‘ says Aberdeen’s Scottish co-producer John McGrath. 'The nature of the story will strike lots of chords in Scotland: it’s not sentimental or outwardly romantic, and yet it has a great belief in humanity even though the characters go through extremes. Norway and Scotland have a similar way of looking at the world, finding
Fjord escorts: actor Stellan Skarsgard, cinematogragher Philip Bgaard and Director
Hans Petter Moland on the set of Aberdeen
humanity beneath surface behaviour.’
McGrath's production company, Freeway Films, helped secure a grant (£325,000) from the Scottish Arts Council's lottery film scheme. He and director Moland first met on Scottish soil at a Moondance workshop on Skye (the European offshoot of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, headed by McGrath), and the producer was quick to see the potential of another Scottish-foreign co-production following his involvement in Belgium’s Ma Vie En Rose. ‘Increasingly we're going to have to package together smaller sums from European countries to make the films we want to make, not those Hollywood wants us to make,’ says McGrath.
At the end of the month, Aberdeen heads for the ferry to Bergen, then finishes up in Oslo. For now, however, Hans Petter Moland has an unexpected headache - sunny Scottish weather. ’Actually, we're very disappointed,’ he says. ‘We loved those cloud-covered skies with occasionally a little break, giving even lighting. This will give us a bit of a problem with continuity.’ (Alan Morrison)
ask IA is , d'
A Geran Requiem: Fassbinder (left) in Fox And His Friends
and crane shots of The Marriage Of Maria Braun and Lola. This partially reflected his interest in 'Iosers’ in his early films and dubious Winners in the later years, but Fassbinder also became increasingly interested in an audience.
In those initial mowes, there was a belligerent sense of failure. Describing one early film, Fassbinder said, 'there were poor souls here, who didn’t know what to do With themselves, who were simply set down, as they are, and weren't given a chance.’
A decade later, however, he was fascinated by those who had been given a chance. He wanted to show people succeeding, though With an
Rainer Werner Fassbinder Retrospective season
Born in 1945, dead at the age of 38 in 1982, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s life was a mad thrashing from the troubled waters of post-war Germany to the calming shore of a drug-induced death. Fassbinder was just one of many German filmmakers trying to make sense of the NaZi past and prosperous present, but no other did with such neurotic energy and restless vigour.
With over 40 films in fifteen years, he
22 THELIST 13—27 May 1999
was less a filmmaker than a one-man ideology — a Singular, whirIWind work of polemical creativity, He w0uld pull people into the vortex and allow their talent to permeate the material, but finally the work was his own. He had more an agenda than a craft. ’In my films there shouldn’t be feelings that people have already digested or absorbed,’ he said. 'The films should create new ones instead.’
Searching for new ways of thinking or feeling took Fassbinder from the early deadpan static camerawork of Love ls Colder Than Death and Katzelmacher to the complex tracking
indeterminate loss. In Lola, Fassbinder gave the audience the reguisite happy ending of personal success, but also showed the anatomy of intrinsic failure — the central character loses her soul. Maybe Fassbinder's work is best read this way — the system doesn’t produce Winners and losers; just losers of different hues. (Tony McKibbin) u The Fassbinder season is at Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse through May and June, see listings and index. Fassbinder: The Life And Times Of A Provocative Genius by Christian Braad Thomsen (it * er * ) is published by Faber, priced £ 76.99.
We're all familiar with architecture, real and imagined, from the work of Mackintosh and Lloyd Wright to the futuristic cityscapes of Metropolis and Blade Runner. Scottish filmmaker Murray Grigor has been bridging the gap between real and reel for years with a series of documentary films about architects. His latest, Nineveh On The Clyde, examines the work of eminent, but overlooked Victorian, Alexander ’Greek’ Thomson.
Currently in the editing suite, Grigor responds to a question about the wisdom of filming architecture. ’lt’s as near as you can get to experiencing a building,’ he suggests. ’I find it very odd that, in the history of architecture, architects were taught mainly with illustrations or slides, so you just get one facade. You treat a building as a painting, but buildings are really sculptural. The spacial dimension is very important.’
Grigor credits the subject of his new film with no less a feat than the single-handed creation of Victorian Glasgow. Recognised for his classical designs, Thomson — who never left Britain - is a true innovator. ’He used his imagination to make some of the most interesting Victorian buildings in the world,’ says Grigor, who also doesn’t care much for Thompson’s ’Greek' monicker.
When asked to clarify the film’s
title, Grigor really lets loose his enthusiasm: ’Thompson actually went back to the old Biblical references of Victorian painters like John Martin who used to do these apocalyptic catastrophies from the Old Testament like "Pandemonium", "The Eighth Day Of His Wrath" and "The Fall Of Nineveh”. Incredible, weird, wild, very Cecil B. DeMille. In fact, those paintings probably went straight through Thomson to D.W. Griffith's Intolerance. Then there’s David Roberts, an extraordinary painter from Edinburgh who went to Egypt - Thompson used those elements too. So he took all these influences and he put them, built them, in the streets of Glasgow.’ (Miles Fielder) I Ninevah On The Clyde premieres at Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 29 May. Other films on art and architecture by Murray Grigor screen on Mon 77 and Mon 23 May.
Alexander Thompson’s St Vincent Street Church