Festival Film

Billy Elliot. Never heard of it? How about Dancer, the original title of

R0 al Court director STEPHEN DALDRY’s film debut? No

Well, you

wi . It’s The Full Monty with ballet, it’s Fred Astaire meets Ken Loach.

‘.'..’o'<:‘s: Miles Fielder

This crowd-pleasing drama about a Yorkshire lad who finds an unlikely calling - ballet dancing during the miners' strike of Thatcher‘s 80$ treads similar comic-tragic ground to Brassed Off and The Full Monty. It’s going to be a big hit at the Film Festival and it marks the film debuts of two significant talents: director Stephen Daldry and his thirteen-year-old star Jamie Bell, who is now in the running for the Harry Potter film.

Daldry's not new to drama; he’s the artistic director of London's Royal Court Theatre and, among 100 plus plays, he has directed Caryl Churchill's This Is A Chair, David Hare's Via Dolorosa (on Broadway) and the multi-award winning, evergreen An Inspector Calls. Not a bad CV, that. So why would he abandon theatre for film? 'I knew immediately I wanted to direct this film by the simple fact that the script moved me,’ he states, no nonsense fashion.

The script was written by Daldry’s old friend Lee Hall who sets a coming-of-age tale against the backdrop of a defining moment in British post- war history. ‘It was a class war where the state was mobilised against a small group of people,‘ says Hall, author of last year‘s Fringe hit Cooking With Elvis. 'lt reiterates the sentiments of Arthur Scargill, which suggested that creative people are

22 THE “ST ?0 Ju7 limo 2003

Regional working class ,‘drama me .; Hollyw 'd 2 music n i BillyE ot

left dormant because we, as a society, have no idea or ambition how to tap into them and that we are poorer for it.’

That's the challenge Billy Elliot has to overcome. Buckling under the pressure of poverty, his striker dad (Gary Lewis) is incredulous of his son's new- found passion; instead it's Julie Walters' middle- class teacher who nurtures Billy’s talent. That story bears some similarities to the teenage Bell's. 'There was hassle from the lads at school - "You shouldn't be doing that Jamie, it's not for boys",' he says. ‘So I just didn't tell them where I was going after football practice and went onto my dance lessons.’

For Dalry these similarities are the key to Bell's extraordinary performance. ’lt's very evident when children are lying and it's very evident when they are telling the truth,’ he says. 'If you can get a child to act truthfully it is incredibly powerful.’

As Billy’s talent flowers, a series of non- traditional dance routines a duet with Walters in a gym to the glamrock of T. Rex; dancing in the streets to The Jam's ’A Town Called Malice' lift the character out of the doldrums and the film out of the ordinary. Think Fred Astaire directed by Ken Loach, that's Billy Elliot.

I Billy Elliot, Edinburgh UGC, 20 (8} 24 Aug

Movies to set the screen alight at the Film Festival

Dancer In The Dark

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I Dancer In lire [Jail [like ABC, ,' 2 Aug,

7 30pm, [/ 4‘11 50'

In The Mood For Love

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Girlfi ht

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I Cjir'lfiqlir iii/mi (aWeo, 7-1 Aug, /' Firm:

23 Aug, l0 30pm, {/ lid 50'

Rin Trilogy (Ringu, Ringu 2, Ringu O: T%e Birthday)

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()lllll‘ui last ASIA.“ "'eda-sutress pm "(i-"(Win ior 'sailxo lioi‘aa'- has spanned a seoae a":i a prequel

I Ring Trilogy ill/l.” (airieo, Aug, 9 ‘I‘>r>r“ a ll 45ml: 1.5 Aug "our, 1/ -{-I SO, 1.") -z' ’0' for all three films

0 Brother, Where Art Thou? wt.

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