DTKs October 2018


still from Portrait Of Ga

76 minutes, 4:3 DCP, Original format: 16mm film
Margaret Tait (1918-1999), stands out as one of Scotland’s most innovative and stridently independent filmmakers. Although her work was relatively unknown during her lifetime, recent years have heralded a wide-spread acknowledgement of her significance. 
This programme marks the centenary of Tait’s birth and showcases the films which Tait referred to as ‘poems’. Made in Edinburgh and Orkney, Tait’s films capture the people and places she was familiar with, approaching her subjects with great intimacy, unravelling the mystery of the commonplace through details of the everyday often overlooked.
Three Portrait Sketches 1951, 10 min
Early experiments in portraiture, made in Italy, Portraits of Claudia Donzelli, Saulat Rahman and Fernando Birri.
‘I like the idea of making a film equivalent of portrait painting. I was trying for a sort of formality – a juxtaposition of images related to colour, composition, movement.’ – M.T.
Portrait of Ga 1952, 5 min
An intimate portrait of Tait’s mother, the film was made in Orkney shortly after Tait returned from Rome. The film’s focus is on capturing the more elusive qualities of its subject. The camera lingers on fragmentary details: her mother’s hands waving in time to the music, fingers unwrapping a boiled sweet, the sun-lit creases of her eyes as she smiles to camera. 
Where I am Is Here 1964, 35 min
“The kind of precision which holds this film together doesn’t depend on words: about half a dozen recurring themes – a stone thrown in the water, a car door shutting, traffic, buildings seen from passing buses, and so on – act upon each other, and are then accompanied by Hector MacAndrew’s music for my poem ‘Hilltop Pibroch’.”.  – M.T.
Aerial 1974, 4 min
A short, lyrical film invoking all things elemental. A perfect distillation of Tait’s idea of the film poem as it evolved over time. “The intention in AERIAL is condensation, so that the emotional effect is direct, as in poetry.” – M.T.
Colour Poems1974, 12 min
Nine linked short films. Memory, chance observation, and the subsuming of one in the other. A poem started in words is continued by the picture, part of another poem is read for the last of the nine. Some images are formed by direct-on-film animation, others are found by the camera. – M.T.
Tailpiece1976, 10 min
The film covers the time of finally emptying a long-time family home, with its personal memories and connection with some of my own work. Fragments of verse, along with young childrens voices released into the emptying rooms and staircases, and an ersatz pop music track, clarify the familiar and the alien in the situation. – M.T.
Programmed by Sarah Neely and Matt Lloy