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Billy Elliott isn't the only new kid on the block. There are two more in Purely Belter, MARK HERMAN's third slice of working class comedy set in the north east of England following Brassed Off and Little Voice.
Words: Miles Fielder
Purely Belter. adapted by Mark llerman from Jonathan 'l‘ulloch‘s novel The Season 'li'eket. follows two young likely lads from deprived backgrounds in Newcastle who try everything from begging to bank robbing to obtain a couple of season tickets to see their beloved footy team. The Magpies. Like Steinbeck‘s (icorge and Lennie. with (ierry and Sewcll. one is short and smart. the other big and dim. Newcomers (‘hris Beattie and (ireg Mcl.ane took the leads. but finding them was no easy matter for Herman.
"l'he casting agent trawlcd the north east and saw about 500 kids and narrowed it down to be about l()() for me.‘ recalls llerman. ‘We got it down to about ten and then we paired them off to see which two would work well together. This pair was by far the best.‘ The performances are top rate. though both lads are Sunderland fans. ironically enough.
llerman has pulled off another casting coup for Pure/y Belter: scoring Newcastle star player Alan Shearer (pictured above. from behind). “It was Kecgan in the book.‘ says llerman. ‘but I knew he wouldn't do it [though he might find the time for a film cameo nowadays]. So I wrote Shearer in. but it was a long haul getting him even for a day. Then. one day we did get him and it rained so we had to postpone. After that we didn't get him until the end of
26 THE LIST 2 16 Nov 2000
‘I didn't want the film to be about football. It's as much about that as Brassed Off is about brass bands.’ Mark Herman
'I do like the mix of humour and tragedy, because that's what life is like'
the shoot. But Alan was great; there was quite a bit of
money from his fee that he gave to charity. which was
good considering the film‘s partly about the greed of
the football business.’
llerman is eager that l’urelv Belter (a (ieordic term meaning good. great. perfect) should not be labelled a football film. That said. it should be pointed out that llerman is no football slouch: he
remembers the first game he ever saw as clearly as if
it were yesterday: “U” V. lixcter. ()Il. ‘I didn't want the film to be about football.‘ he says. ‘lt's as much about that as Brassed ()ﬂ’is about brass bands. It’s to do with community and belonging. and these two boys being accepted. What I like as a writer is ordinary people in extraordinary situations. that applies to all three of my films. but I think the treatments are slightly different. Little Vm'ee jumps out as being not very realistic. slightly cartoonish. I would pair l’urelt' lie/ter with Brassed 0/]. because it has a rougheredgef
So it's all grim-up-north social realism. then‘.’ ‘I don‘t think it paints Newcastle in a bad light at all. it could have been set anywherc.‘ argues llerman. "l‘he boys‘ lives are quite grim. but the city isn‘t. I used to spend a lot of time in the 80s in Newcastle. it was a really vibrant. cracking city. The place to go on Saturday night. And I knew the films made there by Mike l’iggis lStormy Mondayl and Mike Hodges [(iet ('arterl. so it was a great place to make a film.‘
Herman‘s record of critical and box office successes may become a hat trick if Pure/y li’elter curries favour with the crowds. The secret of what has become a winning formula is deceptively simple. as he explains: ‘I do like the mix of humour and tragedy. because that‘s what life is like. it‘s a reflection of everyday life. So the closer together I can get those two things. the more I enjoy it.‘
An opinion no doubt shared by his films‘ audiences.
General release from Fri 3 Nov. See rewew
Lights, camera, action. . .
WORLD PEACE DAY is marked at Edinburgh's Filmhouse on 1 1 November With a s( reening of Jean Renon's classic.
lll(ll( trnent of war, La Grande Illusion.
Followmg the him there Will be a panel
(llS(USSIOn and open forum to discuss the
proposition of challenging (onflict in all its forms. The event IS free and tirkets are available from the Filmhouse's (o-host,
5 Community Learning Srotland, on 313 2488. Or email info@(_|s.dir(.on.(o.uk
THE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL gets off to
; an early start this year with a tie-in to
the Vivre sa Vie French festival of contemporary art (see Art preview). The Jean-Luc Godard New Wave
2 classic, which gives the festival its ' name, is screening at the GFT,
Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh on 13 & 14 November. Also screening, at the 13th Note on 26 November, but
not part of the FFF, is Godard's Le
Mepris, a film about the making of a film version of Homer's The Odyssey
(see also the Coen brothers' 0 Brother,
Where Art Thou? for an adaptation of that book).
SI CUBA! CONTINUES to promote Cuban (ulture in general throughout Glasgow and on film at the (ill from 2 5 November. Still to play in the programme
are: ﬂop/(Ola, the musk-heavy glimpse
at late 90s Cuba; Sara Gomex's One Way Or Another, the first feature to be made by a woman in the (ountry; and Cuba's first gay film, Strawberry 8! Chore/ate; the (l()( umentary Rey/ta. lhe life Of A 8/a(k Cuban Woman In The Twentieth Century (she's seen all 100 years of it); Havana, Illl amor, a look at the lives of soap opera fans, and as if that isn’t enough to transform us all into professors of Cuban (ulture, there’s also
a pair of do( umentaries whi( h explore
the roots of Afro—Cuban musi( and the (ountry's death rituals.
FINAL CALL FOR filmmaker submissions to the Celtic Film And Television Festival, Truro 28-31 March 2001 (deadline 10 November, info www.celticfilm.co.uk), and applications to New Found Land, the newish television drama initiative operated through Scottish Screen
(deadline 17 November, info 0141 302
1742 or firstname.lastname@example.org). .» .‘ c
Vivre sa Vie