Saturday 26 March 2011


Despite what programmes, timetables and speakers said the 9th Borderlines Film Festival kicked off at precisely 11 minutes past 7 last night, Friday March 25 2011.

Thanks to Leominster's band of batty morris dancers the Courtyard became a load spectacle that broke all the rules. Blacked up Morris dancers and smashing sticks, boots and bells were not on the agenda for Friday evening's foyet, but according to all main house attendees, Chico and Rita's love in was not disrupted.

Programme notes indicated Rural Media's Same but Different took opening bill, but for most on the ground floor and in the foyet of the Courtyard, the building of a second world war bomb shelter stole the thunder. Film wise Peter Mullan's NEDS took the main house afternoon slot with an anticipated low audience. Knife violence, alcoholism, vindictive teachers and corporal punishment turned most off but the main marketed image of a half naked, pale, pasty and tubby Scottish lad with kitchen knives taped to his hands guaranteed a low turn out.... So I stretched out in the theatre, basking in the darkness safe in the knowledge that my extended legs and DM boots would not bother a soul and chattering commentator-esque old folk, mobile phones and children would not rile my irritable self.
NEDS was an extremely well made film and overall a memorable and disturbing experience. Peter Mullan continues the British trade of cinematic total grimness but he did not veer into abstract or overly stylised territory with plot becoming secondary to aesthetic. An extended narrative that covered several years of adolescent John Mcgill's life and downfall was the focus of the film with his alcoholic father, Catholicism and gangs among some of the other issues explored. Ultimately this was a raw account of life in Glasgow during the 70s.......

...One hour later I'd forgotten about kitchen knives, killing fathers and blue Harrington jackets (see NEDS).  The Borderlines buzz was in full swing. Peering towards the box office I saw several old boys with shoulder length gray hair, receiving tickets. These guys were not your typical Borderliners. Their t-shirts said it all. 'MOTT' rang load in capitals.

It was catching.... I even caught mutterings from the Morrisers as whispers reverberated about the presence of rock 'n' rollers MOTT THE HOOPLE.... but Leominster's finest still had a show to do and got on with it they did.

As the aroma of the Courtyard's Indian Friday chicken tika started spreading the bells got jangling and the Morris tassels came out. Soon the William Morris, curtain pattern, floral jackets were off, the sticks were smashing and the grizzly men were buzzing. ''We've come out of the woodshed'' the lead Morris shouted and pointed at Emily Price's world war shack, galvanised in black and turquoise rust, humming with her film depicting the men we were watching.

This was a remarkable evening.... 2 hours later as many as 7 individuals got on stage representing various eras of Mott the Hoople following the screening of their film, The Ballad of MTH... The audience tittered, clapped and rejoiced in seeing their heroes in person, together in Hereford. For me, band manager Stan Tippins was the highlight. His love of football transpired through his interviews as different analogies using strikers, central defenders, mid table and european spots conveyed his thoughts about life with the band. Despite my ambivalent feelings towards the film the moment Stan's comment cut to a shot of Ronnie Radford's equalising net breaker (1972 Newcastle United, FA Cup 3rd Round) was a moment of beauty......

and I support Liverpool.

A thank you to Stan for getting the band together for last night and being a tremendously friendly guy. If Borderlines continues such moments.... we're in for a cracking fortnight.

Posted by Luke Owen

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