For the centenary, film exhibitors can now screen new HD scans of 6 shorts from LUX, or a new 2K digitisation of Tait’s only feature Blue Black Permanent (1992) from the BFI.
WHERE I AM IS HERE: MARGARET TAIT AT 100
The largest distributor of artists’ film and video in Europe, LUX have a touring package of Tait’s work available, including six new HD scans of her best-known short films, selected by Tait scholar Dr Sarah Neely and Director of Glasgow Short Film Festival, Matt Lloyd.
The package includes:
- Three Portrait Sketches, 1951, 5.56 mins, 16mm, black and white, silent.
- A Portrait of Ga, 1952, 4.27 mins, 16mm, colour, sound.
- Where I Am Is Here, 1964, 32.48 mins, 16 mm, black and white, sound.
- Aerial, 1974, 4 mins, 16mm, black and white/colour, sound.
- Colour Poems, 1974, 11.20 mins, 16mm, colour, sound.
- Tailpiece, 1976, 9.23 mins, 16mm, black and white, sound.
Find out more: lux.org.uk/work/where-i-am-is-here-margaret-tait-at-100
Three Portrait Sketches
1951, 5.56 mins, 16mm, black and white, silent.
Early experiments in portraiture, made in Italy, when Margaret Tait was a student at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia, Rome. Portraits of 1: Claudia Donzelli; 2: Saulat Rahman; 3: Fernando Birri.
I like the idea of making a film equivalent of portrait painting. I did 3Ps of 3 of my friends in Rome [Three Portrait Sketches], and the next year, home in Orkney, I made a portrait of my mother [A Portrait of Ga] […] I was trying for a sort of formality – a juxtaposition of images related to colour, composition, movement. – Margaret Tait
A Portrait of Ga
1952, 4.27 mins, 16mm, colour, sound.
An intimate portrait of Tait’s mother, the film was made in Orkney shortly after Tait returned from Rome. Like the other film portraits Tait would go on to make, 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. In this way, Tait’s camera mimics the close-up gaze of a child and establishes the intimate style of filmmaking which would eventually characterise the body of her work.
Read author Ali Smith on A Portrait of Ga
Where I Am Is Here
1964, 32.48 mins, 16 mm, black and white, sound.
The kind of precision which holds Where I Am Is Here 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.’ — Margaret Tait
Read author Ali Smith on Where I Am Is Here
1974, 4 mins, 16mm, black and white/colour, sound.
A short, lyrical film invoking all things elemental. A perfect distillation of Tait’s idea of the film poem as it evolved over time. It is one of her shortest films at just over four minutes long and features no spoken words at all.
The intention in Aerial is condensation, so that the emotional effect is direct, as in poetry. — Margaret Tait
Read author Ali Smith on Aerial
1974, 11.20 mins, 16mm, colour, sound.
Nine linked short films. Memory, chance observation, and the subsuming of one in the other. The titles within the film are: Numen of the Boughs, Old Boots, Speed Bonny Boat, Lapping Watter , Incense, Aha, Brave New World, Things, Terra Firma. 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. — Margaret Tait
1976, 9.23 mins, 16mm, black and white, sound.
The film was conceived as a coda to a longer (colour) film, Place of Work, made in the same year. It 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 children’s voices released into the emptying rooms and staircases, and an ersatz pop music track, clarify the familiar and the alien in the situation. — Margaret Tait
NEW 2K RESTORATION: BLUE BLACK PERMANENT
Dir. Margaret Tait, with Celia Imrie, Gerda Stevenson, Jack Shepard
Margaret Tait’s only feature film, and the first directed by a Scottish woman, Blue Black Permanent (1992) has been remastered by the BFI for Tait’s centenary and is available for exhibitors for the first time as a 2K digital scan.
This haunting and magical film moves between Edinburgh and Orkney as it tells of a woman’s attempts to come to terms with her mother’s death through her childhood memories. Filled with flashbacks and dream sequences, it’s also a film about islanders’ relationship with the ever-present sea.
Running time: 85 min
Available formats: DCP / BluRay
Booking – Theatrical:
DCP: 35% / £100MG (exc. VAT and £21 for DCP drive transportation)
BluRay: 25% / £90MG (exc. VAT and £3.50 for BluRay delivery)
Booking – Non-theatrical (film clubs, community cinema):
BluRay: £80 (exc. VAT and £3.50 for BluRay delivery)
Booking and enquiries via: www.bfi.org.uk/form/bfi-distribution-enquiry