in his mid-30s. met in the flatlands of Kansas. The son of an army general. he grew up in Germany. Scotland (more on that later) and all over the States. The woman he calls Inga (a name change) was a divorced army wife who babysat his kid brother. ‘Me and my friend Brenda went to her trailer and regaled her with staged performances of pop songs like ‘Copacabana’.' he recalls. ‘She‘d laugh and give us beers.‘

Mitchell says she wasn‘t especially good- looking. but seemed to snag a lot of dates. Years later. Brenda informed him that Inga was a prostitute.

Collaborating with Trask on a solo performance piece. Mitchell told him her tale. Trask seized on it. converting Inga into a frustrated wannabe rock star. Once they began workshopping the character at the drag club where Trask was music director. her potential for canying a whole show became plain.

Mitchell pegs his first crack at film directing as something in-between a breeze and a fright. ‘It was like jumping into drag and rock. which I’d never done but had certain skills to do. I had certain skills for directing. Ijust didn‘t know much. It helped that I surrounded myself with people who were as passionate about Hedwig as I was.’

Although she‘s helped steer him that much nearer to the entertainment big-time. Mitchell allows himself a little moan about embodying Hedwig yet again on screen. ‘I got bored doing her onstage. After seven shows a week for a year. I was beaten down. I was so overwhelmed with directing. I didn’t wanna act in the film. After ten hours of setting up a shot it was like. “Oh. God. now I have to sing this again!“

‘No director is completely happy with a film.‘ he continues. ‘A lotta things go wrong. and other things unexpectedly go right. But it gets to the heart of what Stephen and I were trying to do. which was to explain the myth of the origin of love through Hedwig’s story. On film. we wanted to do it in a way where the character was real enough that she had to be taken seriously.’

When Mitchell comes to Scotland for the Film Festival. he plans on sticking around for about a month. His mother hails from Glasgow. and he has relatives to visit. He also has local memories. ‘I went to school in North Berwick when I was ten to twelve. a low-rent Catholic boys’ boarding school. They kept cutting back on the heating till it closed.‘ Church music and Scottish folk songs were the order of the day. Still. Mitchell managed to smuggle records into the library. ‘I remember listening to Sweet‘s ‘Fox on the Run’ on headphones surrounded by books like Lives oft/2e Saints.’

He also got his first look at Bowie. on Top of the Pops. ‘He scared the shit out of me.‘ Mitchell laughs.

Mitchell unearths another memory. of particular significance in terms of Hedwig. ‘Since it was a boys‘ school. in the Nativity play I got the part of the Virgin Mary. It was a musical. I was very proud. There was no stigma attached. I was the best little soprano there could be. But my mother was jealous. She'd always wanted to play the Virgin Mary.’

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Fringe) Pleasance, 556 6550, 1-27 Aug, 9.30pm, rte-£12 (EB-£10); Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Film), Cameo, Edlnburgh, 228 4051, 17 Aug, 11pm and 26 Aug, 8pm, prior to general release on 31 Aug.

The film, says Mitchell, ‘gets to the heart of what we’re trying to do’

On stage Hedwig attracted Lou Reed, Madonna and David Bowi


Ghost World

I Amelie The Festival's opening film. a magnificently eccentric fantasy about a young Pari3ian woman's oddball odyssey around her home city. Amelie (Film) UGC, 72 Aug, 8pm; OFF, 75 Aug, 8.30pm, £7 (£4.50).

I Battle Royal The Lord Of The Flies meets reality TV. as rebellious adolescents are marooned on an remote island and forced to murder one another in a nationally televised event. Battle Royal (Film) Cameo, 78 Aug, 71 .30pm; UGC, 23 Aug, 10pm; GFT, 25 Aug, 10.45pm, £7 (£4.50).

I Ghost World Dan Clowes' cult comic book about two teenage girls who fall for an eccentric record collector gets the big screen treatment. Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch star in the coolest film of the Festival. Ghost World (Film) UGC, 77 Aug. 9.30pm; GFT, 27 Aug, 8.30pm, £7 (£4.50).

I Hedwig And the Angry Inch See feature. Hedwig And the Angry Inch (Film) Cameo, 77 Aug, 17pm, 22 Aug, 8pm, £7 (£4.50). I The Man Who Wasn't There The Coen brothers redefine 403 film noir in this tale of a cuckolded husband (Billy Bob Thornton) whose plan to take revenge on his wife and her lover goes horribly wrong. The Man Who Wasn't There (Film) UGC, 25 Aug, 7pm, £7 (£4.50).

I Sean Penn Heel LIfe/The Pledge The former Hollywood bad boy and. arguably. greatest actor of his generation comes to Edinburgh to talk about his career and premiere his new film, The Pledge. a thriller starring Jack Nicholson. Sean Penn Reel Life (Fl/m) UGC, 24 Aug, 7pm, £70 (£4.50); The Pledge (Film) UGO, 23 Aug, 8.30pm, £7 (£4.50).

I Storytelllng New blackest of comedies from naughty boy Todd Solondz (Happiness). who here ransacks race. disability, the Holocaust and American high school massacres with glee. Belle And Sebastian provide the soundtrack. Storytelling (Film) Cameo, 18 Aug, 9.30pm, 23 Aug, 10.30pm, £7 (£4.50).

19 Ju'-2 Aug 2001 THE LIST 17