Films & Festivities Down The Firth: A Preview Of The Dunoon Film Festival…

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Now firmly established as one of Scotland’s finest, the Dunoon Film Festival is back this coming weekend (9-11 November) with a fantastic line-up. Here is the SWH! preview, with 10 suggestions for you to ponder, but you can check out the full programme here.

Tickets are incredible value for money, either £5, £3 or free, with the option of getting a festival pass for £30 which lets you fill your filmic boots and see whatever takes your fancy.

As well as tremendous opening and closing films, there are free screenings, workshops, cinema for children, and even the promise of a scratch-&-sniff version of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-RabbitIt’s well worth a trip doon the watter for the following reasons and more.

There’s rare footage from one of Scotland’s finest filmmakers, a musical zom/rom/com/ where La La Land meets Shaun Of The Dead, Harry Dean Stanton in one of his final screen roles, a live score from The Badwills to a classic Italian silent movie, the Scotsman who paved the way for Charlie Chaplin, the master of stop-motion cinema, a documentary about one of Scotland’s greatest (if controversial) sportsmen, Josie Long’s eagerly awaited Glasgow-based debut, and the festival closes with a 2018 BAFTA winning feature. All this and a showing of SWH’s favourite film of all time (and you can read just some of the reasons why here) followed by an ’80s disco. Who could ask for more? Not us. See you on the dance floor… Continue reading

A Life In Film: The Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Talks To May Miles Thomas…

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4oyoqq68z6zvhepr87pdFor the latest podcast Ali spoke to writer & director May Miles Thomas (left) about her incredible film Voyageuse and the issues and themes it addresses, such as family, sibling rivalry, ageing, grief, and much, much more.

During their chat the two also discuss different approaches to making film, May’s previous projects, using setbacks as inspiration, the problem in getting heard in a crowded market, and the primary importance of story in her work.

It’s a fantastic listen, one which is essential for anyone who is interested, not only in the process and reality of filmmaking, but all aspects of creating art in Scotland. There is also mention of Hitler, satanism in Glasgow, Sian Philips, and the CIA. What more could you want from a podcast?

If you are in London on Friday 14th you can see Voyageuse on the big screen as it is showing at the Picturehouse Central, when there will also be a Q&A with May Miles Thomas and Dame Sian Philips. For everyone else, you can watch the full film over at Vimeo as well as view the trailers for other productions from Thomas’ Elemental Films, and the full-length version of the much discussed The Devil’s Plantation. If you visit the latter’s website you will find all the information you need to follow in Harry Bell’s footsteps (and for that to make sense you’ll have to listen to the podcast first). In the meantime, here’s the trailer for Voyaguese: Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…You Were Never Really Here.

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Lynne Ramsay is to film what The Blue Nile are to music – discuss. She has made four films in 18 years, and it’s been seven between her last, We Need To Talk About Kevin, and her latest You Were Never Really Here. The Blue Nile released their four albums over 20 years, with the longest gap being 8 years between Peace At Last and High. Most importantly both proved to have put their time to good use, producing work which is of the highest quality in their respective fields.

You Were Never Really Here proves, if anyone were in any doubt, that Lynne Ramsay is one of the finest filmmakers around. From her unforgettable debut Ratcatcher, through Morvern Callar (one of the best ever film adaptations of a Scottish novel), to BAFTA & Global Globe winner We Need To Talk About Kevin, she produced a run of films to rival any other director. Could she keep it up? If you believed the recent rumours and hype surrounding Ramsay (leaving, or being asked to leave, various projects) then you may have thought this unlikely. However, if you simply look at the work – which is what matters – how could you doubt it? Continue reading

Lights, Camera, Action!: A Preview Of Glasgow Film Festival 2018…

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If it’s February in Glasgow it can only be the Glasgow Film Festival, the perfect place for the more discerning film fans to take shelter from the storm while enjoying the best cinema has to offer, old and new.

Running from 21st February – 4th March, it’s a festival which over the years has firmly established itself as one of the very best around.

Scots Whay Hae! will be bringing  you interviews as well as the usual reviews, but before we do here is our annual preview.

2018’s programme has so much to recommend it we couldn’t possibly do anything other than make some considered suggestions here, but you can and should download the full brochure, settle back, and peruse at your leisure.

However, before you do here’s a taste of what’s on offer:

As ever,  there are various categories and strands to guide you towards whatever may be your cup of tea. This year they include Behind The ScenesRebel Heroes, Ireland: The Near Shore, CinemastersLocal HeroesSound & Vision, Modern Families, Stranger Than Fiction, Future Cult, PoineerWindow On The World, Crossing The Line, Pure Baltic and the always popular FrightFest.

Add to those some very special events at appropriate venues, a surprise film, school discos, a wide-selection of Gala events, the Glasgow Short Film Festival, the Glasgow Youth Film Festival, and many Special Guest appearances and interviews.

You can keep updated throughout the festival on Facebook and on Twitter @glasgowfilmfest #GFF18 and you can sign up the the GFT Enewsletter which is not only essential for the festival, but all year round. Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…Benny

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Any informed discussion of the greatest all-time Scottish sports stars will throw up familiar names. Alongside the likes of Alan Wells, Liz McColgan, the Lisbon Lions, Andy Murray, Denis Law, Jackie Stewart and John Thomas ‘Jocky’ Wilson will be that of boxer Benny Lynch. However, the passing of time increases the risk that those who have been members of this elite group for the longest are in the greatest danger of being forgotten. The fact that the Lynch legend has lasted this long is testament to his impact on sports fans and beyond. Like Ali, Leonard, McGuigan and Chavez, he transcended the sport of boxing to become a national icon and hero. But Lynch last fought in 1938, lest we forget.

Andrew Gallimore’s documentary, Benny, which previewed at the Glasgow Film Festival last week, is timely for this very reason. It is not only a reminder of a great boxer, arguably one of the very best, but of a time and place, namely Glasgow in the 1920s and ’30s, which is also in danger of being forgotten. Glasgow was overpopulated, ripe and rotten, and at the heart of it was the Gorbals, which had a population density six-times higher than anywhere else in the city. Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…The End Of The Game

 

Our first film review of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival is of David Graham Scott’s The End Of The Game. And what a place to start. When documentary is at its best it trumps fiction every time as it gives us stranger and more telling tales. It is certainly the case that if someone was to write a character such as ‘Sir’ Guy Wallace, the focus of The End Of The Game, then an editor would dismiss him as being unbelievable. But when faced with the real thing, he is impossible to ignore.

He is a man whose story needs a film-maker as fair and even-handed as Graham Scott for audiences to see behind the facade and try to understand just what makes the man who he is. It would have been all too easy for the director to hold his subject up to ridicule. There is a lot of humour in the film, but it is as much pointed to the man behind the camera as to the one it is trained on, and much of it comes from their two very different  worlds colliding. But, as with the likes of fellow documentarian Jon Ronson, Scott tries to understand the personality and the driving passion of his subject. It is the result of an inquisitive mind, and one which is keen to see the best in people, even when initial evidence may prove otherwise. Other filmmakers could learn a lot in terms of approach and perspective Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…T2 Trainspotting

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The sweat wis lashing oafy this boy. Was T2 Trainspotting a terrible idea, destined to disappoint and lessen the memory of seeing the original on its day of release in 1996, emerging blinking from a cinema thinking someone had made a film for me and mine? As soon as the credits roll, with Mark Renton pounding the virtual pavement of an Amsterdam running machine, interspersed with clips of Johan Cruyff showing that anything Archie Gemmill could do he could do better, it’s clear we are in safe hands.

This is a film which is an unashamed nostalgic experience for audience and cast alike, but it’s not wallowing – and it’s certainly not viewing that past through rose-tinted glasses. This is through a glass darkly, with old scores looking to be settled and many demons to be faced down. It’s rare for a film to hold a mirror up to its audience in this manner and ask them to take a good, hard look at themselves; who they are, who they were, and what they have done. Regrets? Too few to mention? If only. Continue reading

You Have Been Watching… 16 Years Till Summer

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I don’t normally bring anything directly personal into a review – it’s rarely relevant, but I want to make the point that sometimes a piece of art, whatever form it takes, comes along at the right time to help you make sense of the seemingly nonsensical, and help you through tough times. That’s what Lou McLoughlan’s film 16 Years Till Summer did for me. It’s an amazing piece of work made more special by the circumstances around when I watched it. As the film shows with heartbreaking clarity, sometimes timing is all.

A documentary set in the western Highlands, and filmed over four years, 16 Years Till Summer follows Uisdean who we meet caring for his ageing father. Theirs is a warm yet antagonistic relationship, with the older man raging against the dying of the light, and determined to make sure his son meets his high standards. Then comes the first major reveal when, while eating together, Uisdean says, “The soup you get in jail they can’t put meat in it because of the vegetarians.” Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…Where You’re Meant To Be & Hamish

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At the recent Glasgow Film Festival an unlikely hero emerged in the formidable form of Sheila Stewart, the legendary Scottish folk singer. She is the perhaps surprising link between two of the best films of the year; Ronnie Fraser’s moving and joyous Hamish, a biopic of Hamish Henderson, (more of which below) and Where You’re Meant To Be, Aidan Moffat’s travelogue of Scotland and its traditional music. Sheila Stewart appears in both, and taken together you are left in little doubt that this was a woman of substance who, in refusing to compromise her self, her traditions and her music, leaves a powerful impression onscreen and on the memory of any audience. She certainly had a lasting effect on the two men who are ostensibly the focus of these two films.

Aidan Moffat says early on that the simple idea behind Where You’re Meant To Be was to have a giggle, touring the country and performing his adaptations of Scottish traditional songs. Most of these are originally rooted in the country, part of a rural Scotland that Moffat, and much of modern Scotland, doesn’t easily identify with. At one point he asks why folk songs have to be about hills and heather? Why can’t they be about glass and neon? That’s what he tries to install to into these songs in his own style, and there is little doubt his tongue is firmly in his cheek when he does so (his filmed homages to Tom Weir and Robert The Bruce only confirm this). And then he meets Sheila. Continue reading

You Have Been Watching…Sunset Song

sunset-song_producer_logoI know from various conversations I have had since it was first announced that there was to be a film version of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic novel, Sunset Song, that there was a significant amount of concern about it, for two opposing reasons.  In the spectrum of love and hate Sunset Song is a novel that promotes strong feelings either way; it seems you can’t be ambivalent about it. So, the thought of the film worried some who didn’t want to see their beloved book adapted, for others it was because it was a text they want to forget.

It does seem that many of those who had it forced upon them at school do not have good memories of Sunset Song. I have sympathy with that as I was one of those children, but when I studied it again in my late-20s as an undergraduate I absolutely fell in love with it, and it remains one of my favourite novels. Perhaps the themes are too complex for many teens? Perhaps some believe, as I did, that if it was taught at school it must be rubbish. Whatever the reasons, if you felt that way I urge you to revisit the text as soon as possible. Then, you’ll likely join the ranks concerned that it will be ruined by a film adaptation. You needn’t worry.

The resulting film is quite beautiful, as you would expect from Terence Davies. If ever a director was perfect for the material this is the case. His previous masterpiece, Distant Lives, Still Voices, had similar themes of working-class life, community, a domineering patriarchal figure, and even the importance of song. In many ways Sunset Song is the rural version of that film, and is none the worse for it. But for all the important themes visited, it is the look which will remain with you. This is film making of the highest order.

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