WIDE ANGLE

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Whatever you might have heard, the renaissance in Scottish cinema is not confined to Edinburgh. The city, which hosts the Drambuie Film Festival each summer is, of course, also the local stalking ground of Brit-pack auteur Danny Boyle, who shot both his debut, Shallow Grave, there, and the phenomenally successful follow-up, Trainspotting. Famous for its scabrous, shoot 'em-up portrayal of heroin abuse in squalid estates, the film was also notorious for confusing audiences as to its location. Wasted youth in Edinburgh? Surely not, not with the castle and the Tattoo and everything. It must be Glasgow.

Well, now Glasgow's hard reputation comes into its own with The Near Room, a cracking film noir which makes good use of the city's lowering landmarks such as the Govan Shipyards, gothic Formakin House and imposing George Hotel (as well as one or two less celebrated sites - the Glasgow Development Agency was accommodating enough to allow its property to double as the newspaper office).

According to writer Robert Murphy, the movie's title comes from "the name given to the psychological place where childhood fears are confronted". The film twists noir's traditional Cherche la Femme trajectory around the contemporary urban nightmare of lost children, drugs, pimps and prostitutes. Material drawn, perhaps, from Murphy's own Near Room, furnished early in his career by a stint spent writing photo-story outlines for the teen mag Blue Jeans.

Conceived, funded and opening on Scottish soil, The Near Room is a great example of the new, regional devolution of film-making. For Glasgow City Council's film department, it's just the beginning. A raft of new projects scheduled to shoot over the coming months includes The Life of Stuff and Orphans by actor/director Peter Mullen, a graduate of the Tartan Shorts film initiative (who, says the unit producer "was in Braveheart, like almost everyone else in Scotland"). Mullen's directorial debut follows four grown-up children who gather together after the death of their mother. A family psychodrama which shows that Glasgow is not merely a venue for gangland murder.

That said, Channel 4 is presently in pre-production for its adaptation of Irvine Welsh's The Acid House, a piece which will, inevitably, return to the dark tenements that have given Glasgow its mean reputation.

Liese Spencer

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