Kotting’s This Filthy Earth is a very sensual celebration of all things rural
Beleagued British cinema is sorely in need of a kudos boost. This Filthy Earth, ANDREW KOTTING’s radical adaptation of Emile Zola’s La Terre, is the kind of bold art film that’s a step in the right direction. Words: Miles Fielder
‘ ometimes it becomes too much of a head 5 fuck.‘ agrees Andrew Kotting. I‘ve just told
him that I don‘t like his film. This Filthy Earth. It‘s probably not the best way to start an interview. but I figure Kotting is game: he‘s serious about his filmmaking and his visual art. but he also has an earthy. self-depreciating sense of humour.
Loosely adapted from Emile Zola‘s novel La Terra. This Filthy Earth is ostensibly about a dysfunctional fatnin and the breakdown of a rundown. rain—swept Yorkshire Dales farming community. But Kotting is more concerned with recreating on screen the experience of living on the land. layering his film with enough stylistic textures to almost obfuscate the plot. It‘s a difficult film to watch. so ‘like‘ isn‘t the right word for what I think of This Filthy Earth. I do. however. admire it very much.
‘It‘s really important for me that occasionally you‘re reminded that there is a world beyond pantomime. that there is a cinema beyond the mainstream,’ says Kotting. 'It can be entertaining. but entertainment doesn‘t necessarily mean that formula we‘re used to. This Filthy Earth is different: you‘re entering a world you perhaps haven‘t been to before. both metaphorically and filmicly. If that‘s your fix. then I‘ve done my job well. But I don‘t think there‘s many people who would want to pay six quid and be immersed in a world of mire.‘
Joking aside. British cinema could do with the kudos boost arthouse films can provide. Everyone and their grandmother is moaning about the terrible state of British cinema. yet some of those same people continue to fund mainstream. mediocre-at— best films. .\'o wonder Britain wasn‘t represented with a feature in competition at Cannes this year.
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‘There is a world
beyond pantomime, 3 Cinema For his next project. the mainstream’
Another half dozen cockney gangster films. romantic comedies or undercooked sitcom material will only continue to chip away at British cinema‘s international reputation. We need an films a la Peter Greenaway. Derek Jarman and Lynne Ramsay: they might not put bums on cinema seats but they do contribute. positively to a British film culture.
Kotting‘s your man. His films reflect both his interest in landscape and his visual art education. He applies the terms ‘sculptural’ and ‘organic‘ to his working method. His inspirations are landscape- based performance artists such as Hamish Horton. Richard Long. Andy Goldsworthy and Christo. ‘These artists are using the earth as a canvas.‘ he says. Which is what Kotting himself does. His previous feature film. the brilliantly eccentric Gallit'ant. is an odyssey around the coastline of Britain. in a camper van. with his 80 year old grandmother and young daughter. Eden.
Kotting describes his new film as an endurance test. ‘It‘s not Emmcrdale Farm. It is real.‘ he says. ‘When Zola wrote La Terra it was very real. You could smell it. taste it. It was a very sensual thing. I wanted This Filthy Earth to be fecund and moist in a very celebratory way of a world which is difficult and yet incredibly beautiful.‘
Kotting moves further still away from conventional cinema to chart very different terrain. He‘s collaborating with a paediatric neurologist on an installation called Mapping Perception. It uses his daughter‘s rare neurological condition. Joubert‘s Syndrome. which affects her cerebellum. ‘We‘re creating an environment that will make an audience question what senses are all about, how we perceive the world.‘ says Kotting. ‘which is what I try to do with my films. It‘s a very scientific piece of work. but the end result will be as bonkers as my films.‘
Bonkers This Filthy Earth might be. but it‘s more crucial to British cinema than a dozen more Lock. Stock. . . rip-offs.
This Filthy Earth opens at Cameo, Edinburgh Fri 28 Dec. See review. More information about Mapping Perception can be found at: www.proboscis.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/
Lights, camera, action . . .
WHO IS THE SUAVEST OF
all film stars? Archibald Leach, of course. Better known to you and me as Cary Grant, here is a star who can make the buttoning up of his cufflinks a cinematic epiphany (he does it in North By Northwest, for those who want to know). Hitchcock's film plus four more classic Grant offerings play at the Glasgow Film Theatre over the festive season (28 December—3 January). See Cary stare in comic disbelief at his dotty, man-killing aunts in Frank Capra's frankly nuts Arsenic And Old Lace. Behold the staid life of Cary's dull scientist thrown into turmoil by Katharine Hepburn in Howard Hawks' screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby. Witness Cary's unscrupulous newspaper editor talk at loomph in Hawks' zany His Girl Friday. And marvel as Cary literally throws himself into a marriage with ever troublesome Hepburn in George Cukor's barmy The Philadelphia Story.
The Son’s Room
WHAT ARE THE Euroawards? Europe’s answer to the Oscars of course. Prizes are to be given out at a ceremony in Berlin this month, and so Edinburgh’s Lumiere is screening a selection of the nominees. You may already have caught Last Resort, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sexy Beast, Intimacy, The Piano Teacher and The Others. However, all but one of them are worth a second view (and no, I’m not saying which one). There are also three films receiving a Scottish premiere: the Dogme comedy Italian For Beginners, Nanni Moretti’s The Son ’5 Room and the German film also headed for the Oscars, Das Experiment. See ’em now, so you can show off later.