VENUES from Ayr to Aberdeen are to host screenings of rarely-seen film gems that form part of a unique travelling touring archive event.
Made In My Toun is part of a three-year project that aims to open up the country’s film and TV archives for the public to enjoy.
Part of the British Film Institute’s Britain on Film project, it showcases Scotland’s urban film history and runs across the country until January 2016.
The event takes the form of an interactive film evening celebrating the "touns" that have shaped Scotland.
“I love watching films in the towns and cities where they were made,” said Made in My Toun curator and tour producer Shona Thomson. “It’s infinitely pleasing to recognise a street, building or even people you know so well on the big screen.
“As a nation, we’ve always had big ambitions for our urban centres and the benefits they might offer us as citizens: from pedestrianising high streets to ‘new town’ planning. Made in My Toun is a chance for audiences across Scotland to watch rarely seen archive films embodying those original ambitions, and have a blether in-cinema afterwards about whether they still offer us the promised benefits today.”
LABOUR OF LOVE
MUCH of the footage is from the Moving Image Archive at the National Library of Scotland, and it goes back as far as 1902.
Digging out the film has been a labour of love for Thomson, former producer of Scotland’s first silent film festival, now a calendar fixture at the restored Hippodrome cinema in Bo’ness.
“I knew the Britain on Film project would have plenty for Edinburgh and Glasgow but I also knew there were really interesting films in the archive about other cities and towns across Scotland, so I have put together a programme that includes films specific to these places. It will be great to watch these on the big screen in the places they were made.”
A screening in Stirling has already been a success, with the audience enraptured by glimpses of people and places they could recognise.
The programme includes a film called Wealth of a Nation, made in 1938 for the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow, which was aimed at showing that Glasgow and Scotland were recovering after the Great Depression.
Supervised by documentary pioneer John Grierson, the film is honest about how the country had suffered hard times but was still full of industry with a strong workforce.
However, according to those involved with the film at the time, when Grierson tried to take it to the New York World Fair the following year it was blocked by the government, who wanted the more stereotypical image of tartan and shortbread Scotland to take to the US.
Infuriated, Grierson somehow managed to persuade organisers to show the film outwith the British pavilion at the Fair.
“Getting it screened in another country’s pavilion was pretty impressive stuff,” said Thomson.
IN Inverness on Saturday there will be three core films set across Scotland and one from 1968 of Inverness and its environs, which was commissioned by the then Inverness and Loch Ness Tourist Association in a bid to attract tourists.
“It’s quite a romanticised view and we will be talking afterwards about how it represented the area,” said Thomson.
Guests at the discussion include Lawrence Sutcliffe from the Highlands of Scotland Film Commission, who gives advice to film and TV companies that want to film in the area.
Also present will be Stuart Black, director of development and infrastructure at Highland Council.
Dundee and Aberdeen follow, then St Andrews, where Mark Littlewood – one of the filmmakers of the original film about the town – will be present.
At Livingston there will be a screening of a 1976 film sponsored by Livingston Development Corporation designed to attract people to the new town.
“It will be particularly interesting for those who grew up in the village of Livingston and saw it develop as well as those who have moved to the area more recently,” said Thomson.
She added: “A lot of these films were made for the big screen and it is important to me that they are seen on the big screen in the places they were made.”
AYR in full 1960s colour is one of the films in that town’s programme, alongside pre-war ambitions for Scotland’s heavy industries and the Central Belt’s new towns.
Immortalised in song and famous for ships and sugar, Greenock also gets a rare outing on celluloid as part of the special programme of films. In Celebrate the Scott Lithgow Shipyard a wee boy’s dream of running away to sea became reality and dancing down the streets leading the Greenock and District Silver Band seemed quite commonplace.
Also as part of the Britain in Film project, there is a Made in Edinburgh season in association with LeithLate, which will show a series of classic features set in the city. All screenings will be accompanied by music videos and experimental shorts shot in and around the streets of Leith.
The features include Shallow Grave, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Restless Natives and The Acid House, the last of which tells three twisted tales of abuse, drugs, displaced personalities and insect life by Scottish writer and former Leither Irvine Welsh. This screening will open with a short documentary, The Port, by Rory Alexander Stewart about the legendary Port O’Leith pub on Constitution Street. Book in advance at www.wegottickets.com.
Made In My Toun: Inverness takes place at 2pm on November 7 at Eden Court as part of the Inverness Film Festival. Full details of events across Scotland can be found on the tour website: www.madeinmytoun.com.
SOURCE: The National