Since his debut feature, Shine, took the world by storm, Australian
director SCOTT HICKS found that he was very much in demand. He talks to The List about his follow-up, Snow Falling On Cedars. ‘.'\*o:'ds: Tom Dawson
‘lt was like being strapped to a rocket.‘ recalls Scott Hicks. ‘lt was an instantaneotis. total and contplete transI'ormation oyernigbt. I was inundated with oI’t'ers'. ()yer the nest twelye months I30 scripts came in. and l sttddenly had this oyerwhelming sense oI‘ choice and opportunity.’
.S'liinr'. the biopic ol' .»'\ustralian pianist David Hell'gott. was picked up by .\'lirama.\. and went on to be nominated I‘or se\‘en ()scars. grossing oyer Sl()()million worldwide. Asked what project he wanted to do next. Hicks told people abotit a book. Snow [Va/ling ()n ('m/urs. which he'd read while completing .S'lti'm'. bttt which had already been optioned by a major studio. A year later a Ron Bass- penned screenplay of Snow [Va/ling ()n (rt/(H's arriyed on Hicks~ desk. together with an oI‘I'er to direct.
What had so impressed Hicks about the noyel was that it was intensely yisual. The author. Dayid (iuterson. sometimes spends ten pages describing a place or an ey'ent.’ says Hicks. ‘ln cinema you can do that scene with one shot. it you get the details right. And because the landscape was such a powerful ingredient. I went tip to Bainbridge Island where the author liy'es and asked him to take tne arottnd and show me this landscape. l in told him: “I‘m an outsider. I‘m an .'\ttstralian. I know nothing about this place or these people". .-\nd we really connected and he was so ltelpI'ulf
Set on a remote island off the l’aeil‘ic Northwest coast around l‘)5(). Show [Va/ling ()n ('t'durs is a multi-layered story which uses the devices of mttrder mystery and courtroom trial. to explore a community’s guilty secrets. lior Hicks the key to a successful adaptation of such a detailed and atmospheric work was to tell as tnttch as possible through images. ‘(iiy'en that the courtroom material is going to be weighted in dialogue. I thought that the other story strands the love story between Ishmael and llatstte. the mystery at sea. the eyacuation oi the .lapanese-Americans 7 should be told through images and sounds. 'l‘hat's why I removed all the \‘oiceoy er that was in the screenplay.‘
28 TIIELISI II 25 ma, 2000
‘It was an instantaneous, ‘t total and complete
‘ transformation overnight. After Shine I was inundated with offers.’
If you're impatient, Snow Falling 0n Cedars will pass you by
"l'he story is about memory.‘ he continues. ‘lt's not a courtroom drama. The courtroom is the present time I‘rame I‘rom which each character is launched back into the past. where they are I‘orced to confront their own memory. And when it came to the editing. I wanted to stress how memory jostles. ey er—present. just below the surface iit your mind. William l’attlkner said something to the eI‘I‘ect that “the past isn't dead. it isn‘t eyen past". We liye with our memories. and I wanted to cony'ey that l‘eeling.‘
The sombre .S‘nrnt' [ill/[Hg ()n ('m/urs' has enjoyed a mixed reception in .»'\merica. bttt the mellow Hicks doesn't appear to be the sort oI' man who takes ol‘I'ence at criticism. ‘lI' you’re impatient then .S'now I'd/ling ()n ('m/urs will probably pass you by.‘ he calmly explains. ‘But it you‘re prepared to go into another world. it will haye its rewards. People have told me it‘s like being transported into another state. I think that’s what a lilm should do. and that‘s why I go to the cinema .
Glasgow: GFT; Edinburgh: Filmhouse from Fri 12 May. See review.
Lights, camera, action . . .
THE 53RD CANNES FILM FESTIVAL got underway on Wednesday 10 May. You'll no doubt be aware of this year's line-up of films, an international mix not for once overshadowed by Hollywood. There are, however, no Scottish films screening in any of the Festival's official sections. Of course, this doesn’t mean there's no Scottish presence on the Cote d'Azure. Despite the surprise failure of Terence Davies' The House Of Mirth (filmed in Glasgow) to make it into the festival, the period drama will nevertheless be screened in Cannes at the market. Also screening in the market is Love The One You're With, the low budget Glasgow-set gangster film, much publicised for giving homeless people acting jobs. Then there’s the fast-growing story of Godsend, the miniscule-budgeted (£150 apparently) science fiction short made in Dundee. Godsend screens at Dundee Contemporary Arts on Monday 22 May. Most high profile in Cannes is the Scottish- German co-production, Summer, which opens the separate but concurrent festival, Director’s Fortnight. More news of Scots in Cannes next issue.
THE 54TH EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (EIFF) has announced the subject of its Retrospective strand Master Visual stylist Max Ophuls is up for (lose struttny 13’ 27 August A German .Iew who moved to Hollywood II". I941, Ophuls' films IDCIUdQ La S/qnora o’i Tutti, [a Ronde and Caught. A new print of his I947 American film, The Exile erI receive its world premiere. The EIFF has also announced new sections In its 2000 programme, 'Famtlres' and 'Younq People', Witlth aim to develop the festival's educational remit. Finally, the festival's industry settton, NBX, has been reinvented as 'I-ILM UK'
CINEWORKS HAS ANNOUNCED a Hot List of twelve projects for its Short Film Award. Scripts for three of the dramas — Slide, 17 and A Close Encounter — will receive public readings by professional actors at 6- MAC, 3rd Floor, Albion Street, Glasgow on Friday 12 May at 7.30—9.30pm.
Love The One You're With